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SLOTS AT STAKE: Kitum keen to make Worlds team in trials

Kenya's David Rudisha (R) wins ahead of Kenya's Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich (L) in their semi-final of the men's 800m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 30, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS

Olympic 800m bronze medallist Timothy Kitum is confident of making the cut to the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships that run in the iconic Birds Nest Stadium from August 22-30.

Kitum, who basks in a 1:45.41 season best he set at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome, will take on Olympic and world 800m record holder David Rudisha, Commonwealth Games fourth-place Ferguson Rotich, Olympian Anthony Chemut, world junior 800m champion Alfred Kipketer and Job Kinyor.

“I have prepared well for the trials. My body is responding well to training and I hope to make the team and then lay a strategy for the world championships,” said Kitum, who ascended to the pinnacle of the 800m race like a rocket.

His rise to the top tier of 800m running and the rapid progress turned out incidental, thanks to a bold move by his former games teacher, Christoper Kimaiyo, at Marakwet Boys High School, who forced him to drop volleyball and take up athletics.

“One day, Mr Kimaiyo came and pulled me out of the (volleyball) court where I was playing as a right attacker. He convinced me that I could run but I could not believe it. None of my siblings are runners and we do believe that athletics is a hereditary sport,” said Kitum, who has a personal best of 1:42.53.

He went on: “At first, it was difficult for me to train. But I had no other option since Mr Kimaiyo rightly pushed me to attend training sessions.”

Not bad for a boy who used to herd their family’s goats in Chesoi village in Marakwet East and knew his neighbour Moses Kiptanui, the three-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion, as his best sportsman.

Kitum, who trains under Belgian track and field Marc Corstjens, is among a handful of Kenyan athletes who switched from other sport disciplines to athletics. 

His rural home neighbours world 1,500m silver medallist Silas Kiplagat and world marathon bronze medallist Sharon Cherop were versatile football strikers.

World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and former world cross-country champion Florence Kiplagat were also footballers while Nixon Chepseba, the metric mile great, was a volleyball left attacker. 

Kitum later joined Brother Colm O’Connell holiday training programme at St. Patrick’s High School, Iten.

This is where he first met David Rudisha, among other athletic stars. Sammy Macharia, his coach, was optimistic Kitum will make the team to Beijing.

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