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Showdown between Rudisha and Rotich fails to materialise

Alfred Kipketer sprints to victory in the 800m yesterday. RIGHT: David Rudisha was third. [PHOTOS:DENNIS OKEYO AND AFP]

The build up to the two-day Olympic trials at Kipchoge Keino Stadium was about the showdown between David Rudisha and Ferguson Rotich.

The showdown was, however, not to be as youngster Alfred Kipketer (1:43.73) stole the show beating both Rudisha (1:44.23) and Rotich (1:44.05) in the 800m final yesterday. It was the same script in the women race as another youngster Margaret Nyairera stole the limelight with world bronze medallist Eunice Sum forced to play the bridesmaid role.

It was a script straight from heaven in the men race and no man would have directed such a brilliant run.

No one tipped Kipketer as the favourite, not even the athletics prophets.

But the reigning world junior champion Kipketer showed no respect to Rudisha, a world and Olympic champion as he unexpectedly won the trials – earning ‘King’ Rudisha his second defeat on Kenyan soil after Rotich beat him at the Beijing World Championships trials last year.

Rudisha, who has lost to Rotich in Shanghai and Stockholm this season, said: “I am happy for the performance. I gave my best.”

Kipketer, a world youth and world junior champion, said he is on the right track ascending to the throne.

“I am glad that I could win here before my home fans. I have won youth and junior championships and everything is possible, even at the Olympics. I think I have now had enough experience now,” he said.

Nyairera, the reigning world junior champion, pulled another surprise to the electric crowds inside the stadium as she won in 1:58.27 the fastest time in high attitude. Sum (1:59.63), the world 800m bronze medalist, returned second as former world junior silver medalist Winnie Chebet (2:00.16).

Nyairera said: “Watch me out. The same way I have beaten Sum here is the way I will beat Caster Semenya (South Africa’s 2009 world champion) in Rio Olympics.”

Brimin Kipruto, the 2008 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion, led two-time world champion Conseslus Kipruto and two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi in the water and barriers race.

There were major shocks in men’s 10,000m race after world silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor pulled out in the 20th lap even as Bedan Karoki, fourth in Beijing worlds, disappeared off the radar mid-way.

Paul Tanui, two-time world bronze medalist, won in 27:46.15 ahead of Charles Yosei (27:57.07) and Wilfred Kimitei (28:12.22), the Africa silver medalist.

Tanui said he hopes Karoki and Kamworor will be back in the team. “We have been helping each other and it’s really crucial,” said Tanui.

Vivian Cheruiyot will be doubling in the 5,000m and 10,000m after she won the shorter event yesterday. She finished ahead of Hellen Obiri and Mercy Cherono.

Faith Chepng’etich, Nancy Chepkwemoi and Viola Lagat topped 1,500m race as Hyvin Kiyeng, Beatrice Chepkoech and Lydia Rotich ruled in the 3,000m steeplechase.


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