Focus shifts to 2020 Tokyo Olympics

By Dennis Okeyo: Saturday, December 28th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech celebrates after winning in the Women's 3000m Steeplechase final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on September 30, 2019. [Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP]

Kenyan athletes produced a mix of good and poor performances in track and field this season even as attention shifts to 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot was no doubt the toast of the season with a stellar showing. World 3,000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech and Hellen Obiri also gave Kenyans a year to remember on the track.

The 24-year-old Cheruiyot suffered one defeat in nine races when he lost to 2017 world 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi at the Diamond League season opener in Doha, Qatar. 

Within six days, he ran the fastest mile in 3:50.49 at the Stanford Diamond League meet and then set the fastest 1,500m mark of 3:28.77 this season at the Lausanne Diamond League.

Cheruiyot is the only 1,500m athlete to have hit a sub 3:30 this season and he did it three times. With such a good show, Cheruiyot sealed his third consecutive Diamond League Trophy and a world title.

“I had a successful season. I have started the build up for next season, where I focus on Tokyo Olympics. I am targeting an Olympic title,” said Cheruiyot. 

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Chepkoech went to 2017 London World Athletics Championships as a hot favourite for top spot but a miscalculation at the water jump messed her up. She had to wait for two years to wear the global crown.

Chepkoech shaved eight seconds off the women’s world record in the 3,000m steeplechase to win the Diamond League meet in Monaco race in 8.44.32. And she was keen to avoid the London gaffe as she outclassed her opponents in Doha last October.

Obiri went to the World Championships with lofty dreams: to win 5,000m and 10,000m titles. She never realised the big dream and only managed to retain the 5,000m title.

Conseslus Kipruto defended his world title in Doha in October in a tough duel. He went to Doha having missed out in the entire season due to injury and produced an incredible show to edge out Ethiopian Lamecha Girma by one-hundredth of a second.

Faith Chepngetich staged a comeback from maternity leave to win her only race of the season in Stanford Diamond League meeting in USA before settling for silver in Doha world championships. She gears up to defend her Olympic title next year.

For almost two decades, Kenyan men athletes have failed to reclaim groove in 5,000m and 10,000m races. They have had to endure defeats from Britain's Mo Farah, Ugandans and perennial rivals Ethiopia.

In Doha, Rhonex Kipruto won bronze medal in 10,000m. It was another setback for Kenya in men’s 5,000m final, where Jacob Krop, a student at Chewoyet High School in West Pokot, came in sixth place.

Meanwhile, the World Athletics decision to scrap 3000m steeplechase in the Diamond League races remains a major setback for the nation. Kenyan have dominated the race for almost five decades and it has been dubbed a 'race made in Kenya for Kenyans.'

Other races that were scrapped include triple jump, 200 metres and discus.

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