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World Under 20 Athletics trials: Top Kenyan stars set for epic clash

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | July 3rd 2021
 Cherotich (Left) on her way to winning the 5000m women final during the Athletics Kenya Trials World U20 Championship at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya on July 02, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

A dogfight awaits as stars battle in the final day of the World Under 20 Athletics national trials at Kasarani Stadium today.

There will be plentiful of mouth-watering clashes on the card as a handful of experienced athletes–medallists from Africa contests–battle budding athletes in the chase for team spots to World Under 20 Championships that runs at the same venue on August 17-22.

Yesterday, Maureen Cherotich and Zenah Jeptoo led Brenda Jechumba into qualifying for the biennial showpiece in 5000m.

Cherotich won in 15:44.00 ahead of Jeptoo (15:46.20) and (16:01.0).

Cherotich, fourth-placed at the 2019 Africa Under 20 Championships in Ivory Coast, said she capitalised on the slow pace to chalk up victory. She will line up in 1500m final today.

“I am ready to double (1500m and 5000m). We had a good race and hopefully qualify in the two races,” she said.

It was a different script for Jebet, who made the team to 2021 Africa cross country championships in Lome, Togo–which was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions in the west African nation in March.

Jebet, a Form Three Student at Nairobi’s Riruta Secondary School, said: “I decided to step up the pace since I can’t withstand high speed in the final lap. I will work on speed ahead of the competition.”

Fireworks are, however, expected today where some top athletes line up in final races.

Africa 3000m champion Emmanuel Kiplagat will compete in men’s 5000m taking on Levi Kibet, Samuel Kibathi and Ezra Kiplang’at.

Athletes compete in the 5000m women final during the Athletics Kenya Trials World U20 Championship at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya on July 02, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

Kiplagat, who wore the continental crown in Ivory Coast in 2019, said he longs to become Africa and World champion.

Kiplagat, who completed Form Four at Kaptimbor High school in Baringo last year said: “I have won the Africa 3000m title but I need gold in 5000m. I know it is possible. I only need to plan well.”

Women’s 3000m will certainly stage for redemption for Zena Chemutai, fourth at the World Under 20 5000m Championships in Tampere, Finland, in 2018.

On Thursday, Chemutai finished second behind Japan-based Teresia Muthoni in what sparks off tough duel in the finals.

There is also Marion Chepng’etich who aims to atone for failing to travel to Lome, Togo, for Africa cross country championships in 2020 and 2021–due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I want to make a breakthrough this time. I made the national team twice but could not travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I pray to God to make it this year,” said Chepng’etich.

In men’s 3000m steeplechase, Amos Serem will lead Simon Kiprop, Aron Bett and Fredrick Domongole while Judy Kirui, Joleshine Biwott and Sharon Chepkemei anchor the women’s onslaught.

In men’s 800m, Noah Kibet will lead Duncan Kangere, Emmanuel Wanyonyi and Brian Kiptum as Nelly Jepchirchir, Judy Kemuntho and Sheila Chepkosgei battle in women’s race.

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