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KEEPING THE FAITH: Chepng'etich leads chase for Beijing Championships 1500m race ticket

ATHLETICS By Chris Musumba | July 29th 2015
Commonwealth Games Scotland's Laura Muir, Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obirim and Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kibiegon compete in the final of the women's 1500m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS

Commonwealth Games 1500m champion Faith Chepng’etich says running a fast time at the Athletics Kenya national trials at the Safaricom Stadium on Saturday will not be important as she chases a ticket to the Beijing World Championships.

Chepng’etich, 21, (pictured) will be hoping to make her second show at the premier world track and field competition, having made a debut appearance in Moscow two years ago.

“You can never be certain about Kenyan trials. There is always somebody new coming through the ranks, making it very explosive and one has to be at her best to make the team,” she said.

That has indeed been the nature of the trials that even big names have no automatic spot in the team and must work their way through to qualify.

In Moscow, Chepng’etich was a distant fifth, clocking 4:05.08, with fellow Kenya's Helen Obiri taking bronze. But she believes she has developed well since she graduated from the junior ranks in 2012 as a World Junior Champion.

“Of course I am frustrated not to have won more titles at the world stage as a senior. But the progression has been good and as we focus on the trials, I know it will be tough, but I can navigate my way through and make the team,” she added.

With a personal best time of 3:58.01, which she clocked in Doha in 2013, Chepng’etich, who trains in Keringet, Nakuru, said her target is to improve on the time in Beijing. This year, she competed in Oslo and Lausanne with her best time being 4:00.94 in Switzerland.

On Saturday, Chepng’etich will come under immense pressure from Viola Lagat and Japan-based Ann Karindi. Others are Stacy Ndiwa, Nancy Chepkwemoi and Irene Jelegat. But the absence of World Bronze medallist Hellen Obiri makes the challenge a little easier. Obiri, who is sitting out this year to nurse her baby, is expected to return in time to contest for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A total of six athletes have qualified in the 1,500m race. The required qualification standard for the race is 4:06.50. However, Athletics Kenya has invited 17 athletes for the meet, with hope that those close to clocking the required time will be able to push the pace of the race as they seek the preferred time and ticket in the team.

Head coach Julius Kirwa remained optimistic Kenya can run away with two medals in the four-lap race even if Obiri will not be competing.

“Chepng’etich is in good form after her injury and she can surprise anyone on a good day. But for now it is important to focus on who will be picked and the rest can wait until after the trials, when we will start to analyse the team’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Kirwa.

Chepng’etich returned from injury in May and made her first appearance at an international meet in Eugene, Oregon on May 30.

“The injury is healed and I am in top form. I ran 14:31.95 in Eugene and for now, though I qualify for the 5,000m and the 1,500m race, I will only focus on my specialty in 1,500m at the trials. There is no doubling up for me,” said Chepng’etich.

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