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Kenyan track stars praying for Olympic mark at Kasarani Stadium

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | June 17th 2021
2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Preliminary - Women's 5000m Round 1 - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 16/08/2016. Yasemin Can (TUR) of Turkey, Hellen Obiri (KEN) of Kenya and Mercy Cherono (KEN) of Kenya finish the race. [REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson]

There is history in the making as Kenyan men 10,000m battle gets underway at the national trials inside Kasarani Stadium tomorrow.

The star-studded field will be hoping to change pecking order as they strive to win the elusive Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

The late Naftali Temu won Kenya’s last men 10,000m gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

World 10,000m bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto will anchor men’s 10,000m contest.

Kipruto, the reigning Africa cross country junior champion, must be at his best to counter Africa 5000m champion Edward Zakayo, Rogers Kwemoi, Bernard Kibet and Vincent Kibet.

Nicholas Kimeli, a member of World Half Marathon Championships to Poland last year, longs to make another monumental record. Kimeli made the squad with her younger sister Dorcas Jepchumba and they will contests for places in 10,000m at the national trials.

Kimeli Nicholas celebrates winning the 5000km race against Teklehaimanot Argawi of Ethiopia during the inaugural Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour at the Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi on October 04, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

Geoffrey Kamworor, a former world 10,000m silver medallist, will be in action alongside Jacob Krop, sixth at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

US-based Edward Cheserek, Philemon Kiplimo, Daniel Mateiko and Timothy Kosgey are also hungry for glory.

However, the bigger battle at Kasarani will be when some world beating stars strive to hit Olympic qualification time.

It’s a tricky affair for these athletes as they must wait until the next Diamond League in Olso, Norway, on July 1 or strive to get invitations into other low tier track races across the globe to get qualifying times if they miss the mark at Kasarani.

Mercy Cherono, the 2014 Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion and Judith Kiyeng lead the women’s onslaught chasing qualification in 1,500m race.

Purity Cherotich, the 2014 Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion, also faces a similar hurdle alongside Fancy Cherotich and Elizabeth Mueni.

Kenyan sprinters will have a last chance to hit qualification mark in 4x400m men and women’s 4x400m relays with entry of Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan.

Kenya’s men’s 4x400m team is currently placed 19th in the world by countries with a time of 3:04.04 and Athletics Kenya has formed teams consisting of country’s best sprinters to try and make the qualifications time.

South Africa, who are currently in 16th place, have 3:03.79.  Botswana (3:04.03) and Belgium (3:04.01) are ahead of Kenya in the ran

At the same time, Beatrice Chepkoech, the world 3000m steeplechase champion and record holder over the distance, has vowed to kill two birds with one stone this season: win an Olympic gold and lower her all-time mark. And tomorrow’s final offers that moment.

Athletics - New York City Marathon - New York, United States - November 3, 2019. Kenya's Geoffrey Kamworor crosses the finish line to win the elite men's race. [REUTERS/Brendan McDermid]
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