Athletics: Kenyan hunt for gold kicks off in Tampere, Finland

By Dennis Okeyo, in Tampere, Finland: Tuesday, July 10th 2018 at 00:24 GMT +3 | Athletics
10,000m runners Solomon Kiplimo Boit and Rhonex Kipruto during their training session on July 8, 2018 ahead of the IAAF World U-20 Championhips in Tampare, Finland. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

Rhonex Kipruto, Beatrice Chebet lead juniors in search of podium finishes.

Top 1,466 Under-20 athletes, (782 men and 684 women) representing 160 nations, will battle for honours in the five-day World Championships that begin today at the Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland.

Rhonex Kipruto started the year with victory at the 2018 Africa Junior cross country championships in Algeria, before posting a world lead time over the 10km road race in New York City; and now, the youngster is ready to take over the world when he lines up in men’s 100,000m final today.

Coached by Bro Colm, christened the ‘Godfather of Kenyan running’, Kipruto will partner with Solomon Kiplimo Boit, a Form Three student at Chewoyet Secondary School in Elgeyo Marakwet County, in the gold medal chase.

Boit finished second during the Kenyan trials.

As usual, the duo will face challenge from perennial rivals Ethiopia, who settled for Berihu Aregawi, the Ethiopian trials winner in 29:36.6.

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He will have Olika Adugna, was second in 29:37.12, for company. Ugandans will also be eyeing a podium finish during the race that begins at 6:50pm Kenyan time.

“I’m not worried about any challengers. I know they have prepared just as we have done. As we enter the race, my focus will be to finish tops,” said Kipruto.

“I want a perfect transition to the senior ranks. This means I must dominate junior championships before engaging the big boys in the senior level,” added Kipruto, an alumnus of St. Patricks Iten and with a personal best of 27:08.0 over the distance.

Despite making his national team debut, Boit is confident of giving his best show.

“We going to work as a team as per coach Robert Ngisirei’s instructions and make sure we deliver the best performance. I’m confident of being at the podium,” said Boit.

In the other final today (women 5,000m), Lodiani-based Beatrice Chebet and 2018 Africa Junior cross country bronze medallist Hellen Ekalale will do battle for Kenya.

In women 3,000m steeplechase, defending champion and world junior record holder Celliphine Chespol will be looking for a perfect start in the event’s heats.

The 2017 World U-18 1,500m champion George Manangoi and Justus Soget will compete in 1,500m heats.