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It's time to decide who will take off to Tokyo

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | June 16th 2021
Atheletes compete in the 100M women heat event during the Athletics Kenya Pre-Trials for Olympics at Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi on May 27, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Stanndard]

It’s a do-or-die battle as Kenya’s world beating stars lock horns in chase for prized tickets to Olympic Games that run in Tokyo, Japan, on July 23-August 8.

Kenyan trials are often billed as mini Olympics minus Ethiopians and Ugandans.

The three-day clash pitting big shots and the handful of upstarts inside Kasarani Stadium from tomorrow will no doubt result in a dogfight.

It promises a cocktail of hopes and exciting intrigues –notwithstanding the controversies that have headlined Kenyan Olympic trials.

They will be hankering after places to the national team while they battle for honour, victory and, of course, there will be disappointment.

A blunder from the start or getting tripped on the track could make the difference between victory and loss –the difference of a lifetime.

But the men’s 10,000m showdown between time-time world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and world 10,000m bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto remains the talking point.

Then throw in Africa 5000m champion Edward Zakayo and Rogers Kwemoi and the light-hearted will tremble. Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Paul Tanui and Daniel Simiu will certainly offer a sight to behold in men’s 5000m contest.

Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion, will be out to protect his turf against Africa champion Benjamin Kigen as world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot seeks to join the club of Olympic and world champions.

Athletics fans will, however, miss two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, who dominated the two-lap race for more than six years.

It remains to be seen if Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal and world bronze medallist Ferguson Rotich will ascend to the throne.

US-based Emmanuel Korir (400m) and national 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala will light up men’s sprint contests.

The women’s 5000m and 10,000m battle will certainly whet fans’ appetite when Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri takes on classy line ups. She will square it out with world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop and half marathon miler Rosemary Wanjiru.

US-based Sharon Lokedi will also be on the start line.

World 3000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech needs to be at her best to counter Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng, two-time world Under-20 champion Celliphine Chespol and Mercy Chepkurui.

It’s a tough duel in women’s 1500m since Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich and Africa champion Winny Chebet are only athletes to have attained Olympic qualifying times.

Edinah Jebitok, Judith Kiyeng, Selah Busienei and 2014 Commonwealth Games 5000m champion Mercy Cherono are also in the mix.

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