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Kiplagat Masai Lead the Queue

By | Jun 23rd 2009 | 2 min read

By Mutwiri Mutota

Sally Barsosio still finds herself in a small group of one as far as Kenya’s history at World Championships competition is concerned.

Incredibly, she remains the only female athlete from the country to ever step to the podium as world 10,000m champion, a feat she achieved in 1997 with a time of 31:32.92 aged 17.

She also earned distinction as the first Kenyan senior track champion in a major event.

On Friday morning during the New KCC/AK National Championships, three more athletes will be selected to embark on matching Barsosio’s accomplishment in Berlin this summer.

And with female athletics enjoying a renaissance in the country, there is optimism that those selected at the Championships will give Ethiopians, who have won the last five 10,000m world titles, a run for their money.The cast vying for the 10,000m women’s ticket for Berlin is one of the most potent in years.

World cross title

Fresh from being the second female athlete after Helen Chepngeno (1994) to bag Kenya the senior World Cross title in Amman, Florence Kiplagat leads the Berlin queue.

Since winning gold in Amman, she has been in sparkling form and underlined her credentials in 10,000m last week (June 15) when she finished second to Meselech Melkamu in 30:11.53 at the Utrecht meet in Netherlands. With that effort Kiplagat, 23, supplanted world junior record holder Linet Masai (20) who ran 30:26.50 at last August’s Olympic Games as Kenya’s record holder in the distance.

Kiplagat, a former world junior 5,000m silver medallist, holds the second quickest time of the year after Melkamu’s 29:53.80 winning mark in Utrecht, also an African record.

Took bronze

Masai, another shoo-in for a Berlin slot has been racking up honours since bursting to the scene with victory at the 2007 Mombasa World Cross junior race.

Last year, she took bronze in the senior race before setting the world junior record in Beijing where she came fourth and finished second to Kiplagat in Amman.

Last (May 22) Masai upset double Olympic champion, Tirunesh Dibaba at the Reebok Grand Prix (14:35.39) and finished second to Meselech Melkamu at the Ostrava Golden Spike (14:34.36) meeting over 5,000m.

Armed Forces double champion, Lineth Chepkirui (fourth Amman) who missed Beijing and Peninah Arusei also from Forces are also strong bets to challenge for Berlin tickets.

Arusei is keen to erase the disappointment of her 18th finish in Beijing where she suffered the ignominy of being lapped by the winner.

Beijing and Osaka fourth finisher (5,000m) Sylvia Kibet who could step up to 10,000m and Japan-based Filomena Cheyech are other favourites for Berlin.

Last year’s Beijing Trials winner, Lucy Kabuu who has been plagued by an Achilles tendon injury is doubtful of making full recovery for a serious assault on Berlin.

Sotokoto Safari Marathon champion, Philes Ongori who was an unused reserve in Beijing is keen to make amends by claiming an automatic slot for Berlin.

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