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Kenya ready for U20 title defence

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | July 4th 2021
Vincent Keter celebrates after winning the 1500m men’s final during the World U20 Championship trials at Kasarani Stadium yesterday. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kenya has won at least five overall titles at the World under 20 Athletics Championships since its inception in 1986.

The nation lies second in medal charts with 186 medals behind USA’s 247. Sadly, it only boasts two title defences from Wilfred Kirochi (1500m) in 1986 and 1988 editions as well as Mercy Cherono in 3000m from 2008 and 2010 editions.

This is despite having won overall titles the 1986 meet in Athens, 2006 in Beijing, 2008 in Bydgoszcz, 2010 in Moncton and 2018 in Tampere, Finland.

Yesterday, Athletics Kenya named a 46-member squad–24 men and 22 women–to the World U20 contest that run at Kasarani Stadium on August 17-22.

It was quite evident that huge dreams, redemptions and upsets marked the three-day riveting action.

Battle lines were drawn majorly in women’s 1,500m, 3000m, 5000m as well as men’s 1500m, 3000m steeplechase and 5000m.

Newcomer Teresia Muthoni and Zenah Chemutai, fourth at the 2019 Africa U20 championships in Ivory Coast, qualified in 3000m. Chemutai will also compete in 5000m.

These two stars were simply in pure class as they shrugged off opposition in their respective races. 

Mercy Cherono, the 2014 Commonwealth Games 5000m champion, stands out as the only Kenyan to have won the World U20 3000m title twice.

But the battle to equal Olympic 1500m champion Faith Chepngetich’s shows in 1500m would be shaping up at the World U20 event.

Faith Chemutai and Purity Chepkirui will fly the Kenyan flag in what it now remains to be seen if they can match Chepng’etich’s performances.

Vincent Keter, sixth at the Olympic national trials, showed no respect for his peers as he won 1500m race easily. And he could be out to strangle the opposition at the global showpiece. He will team up with Emmanuel Kemama.


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