The two-day Safaricom Athletic Kenya National Trials at the International Sports Centre Kasarani ended with sweet overtones with Kenya naming official teams to both the World Championships and All Africa Games.
The highlights of the championships was the 1,500metres competitions where two-times World Champion Asbel Kiprop and born-winner Faith Chepng’etich rehearsed their winning scripts ahead of the 15th IAAF World championship.
However, there were mixed results in some events in the proceeding but this did not dilute the selection that saw the panel of selectors come up with the best from the best to shoulder the honourable task of winning medals for the country.
Kiprop and Chepng’etich provided the leverage in the middle distant event after reassuring their fans that they are the best in their class. Kiprop, also an Olympic champion over the distant, run a classical race from behind to win with an officer’s salute to the VIP dais where the President was watching the event.
“I feel strong and ready for the World Championship. Today’s competition has gone as I had planned. It is also good to have Kiplagat (Silas) with me,” said the flexible champion who was mobbed by a battery of journalists.
Kiprop, who posted the third fastest time in history of the 1,500metres with a blistering 3:26.69 this season, completed in 3:34.03 while Kiplagat, the Commonwealth champion, clocked 3:34.44 for second place. Upcoming Elijah Motonei chalked 3:34.46 for third.
In women, Chepng’etich, who is the national record holder over the distant, fought a brushing battle to overcome advances from 5,000metres World Champion Mercy Cherono. Chepng’etich timed 4:01.85 to dominate while Cherono posted 4:02.21. Third placed Nancy Chepkwemoi finished in 4:04.67.
In 800metres, mixed results were evident where reigning champion Eunice Sum led her mentor Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei in the women race while in men, Olympic champion David Rudisha was eclipsed by fast-rising Ferguson Rotich after the latter surged over the last 80metres.
“I am not bitter with the loss. After all, this is national championship where anything was bound to happen. It does not affect me and I will now continue with my training focusing on the World championship,” said the World record holder in a post-race interview after the race watched by The President and the First Lady.
Rotich sighed with pride after posting 1:43.60 against Rudisha’s 1:43.89. Another upshot Alfred Keter was third in 1:44.07 while Olympic Bronze wearer Timothy Kitum was last in 1:47.32.
In women, Sum, who is leading in the Diamond League in the 2 lap race, clocked 1:59.46. Jepkosgei, popularly known as Eldoret Express, stopped the timer at 2:00.42. Close finisher Annet Wanzi managed 2:01.46 but failed to hit the mandatory 2:01.00 required for the global championships.
Positive results also were realized in the women and men 10,000metres where World cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and former double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot dazzled with unequal performance.
Kamworor, also the reigning World half marathon champion, emerged victorious after running shoulder-to-shoulder with team mate Bedan Karoki and Paul Tanui during the last half of the race.
The determined Kamworor crossed in 27:11.89. Karoki was second at 27:15.33 with Tanui, who is based in Japan, easing out in 27:18.45. In Women, Betty Saina and Commonwealth champion Joyce Chepkurui were no match for the coming back Cheruiyot.
She regained her winning foot over the last 300metres to post 32:58.4 for the win while chasing Saina trailed in 32:59.2. Chepkurui sealed the podium with 33:00.1 round-up. Gladys Chesir and Agnes Tirop clocked 33:00.9 and 33:14.9 in that order.
In another mouth-watering race, Diamond League maestro Jairus Birech pulled a fast one on multi-champion Ezekiel Kemboi and shinning Conseslus Kipruto in the men’s 3,000metres. Birech duped the opponents with a fast move in the last 800 metres and maintained a 30 metres gap that saw him win the energy-consuming event in 8:19.55. Conselsus followed in 8:21.73 while Kemboi, in his bid to make the 7th appearance at the global show, finished 4th in 8:24.42 behind Beijing Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto who was third in 8:22.95.
The women crown went to Africa champion Hyvin Kiyeng after playing hide-and seek game of wit with Diamond League Chaser Virginia Nyambura. The winner won in 9:33.42. Nyambura clocked 9:33.69 ahead of junior Champion Roseline Chepng’etich who was third with 9:35.75.
Veteran Edwin Soi and Viola Kibiwott were no match for their rivals in the 5,000metres where they dominated. Soi came from behind to edged out Emmanuel Kipsang and Isaiah Kiplagat after race favourite Thomas Longosiwa lost the rhythm after stepping on the side track bar.
Soi won in 13:30.83. Kipsang, Kiplagat and Longosiwa came in that order, posting 13: 33.84, 13:41.19 and 13:52.91. On the other hand, Viola led Irene Cheptai and Janet Kisa with 15:42.58, 15:42.98 and 15:44.77 respectively.
In the sprints, Joyce Sakari, Eunice Kandogo, Alfas Kishoyan and Mike Mokamba did not disappoint spectators as the won their respective titles.
The final races was watched by dignitaries included His Excellence President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and the Country top sports officials led by Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei and Sports Secretary Japter Rugut.