The national athletics team leaves the country this Monday for the 15th International Association of Athletics Federation in Beijing China beaming with confidence of rocking the world after winding up training at Safaricom Stadium, Nairobi.
The Team, that was given a warm send off by Athletics Kenya and the sponsors Safaricom last Thursday evening, comprises the top cream in the country and young and energetic runners and is going for title defense and scheme to penetrate in some grey events.
Junior World champion Margaret Wambui Nyairera and Sprinter Jacinta Shikanda are the new inclusions in the national team as the strong contingent go to the Asian nation leaving nothing to chance as they target every medal in the 9 days championships.
The two joined the pair of Francisca Koki and Janet Khisa who was included in the initial 47-member team picked after the national trials at the beginning of the month.
Nyairera, a form 3 students at Tetu Girls High School, will team with 800metres world champion Eunice Sum and her mentor Janeth Jepkosgei for the medal hunt in the two-lap event when the championship anthem signal the start in Beijing from 22nd this month.
The two landed the tickets to the championships following the new International Association of Athletics Federations qualification system where the athletics body has set a target for a number of competitors in each event.
Shikanda, who finished 3rd in 52.29 during the trials, now joins Joyce Zakari and Maureen Chelagat in the 400metres women. Both Zakari and Chelagat ran 51.16 and 51.77 which is within the 52.00 required for the championship.
The other call up to the team earlier on was in 5,000metres women where third placed Janet Khisa joined Viola Kibiwott, Irene Cheptai and defending Champion Mercy Cherono. Francisca Koki, who bettere her national record from 55.84 to 55.82 during the national championships was another inclusion and she will run in the women’s 400metres hurdles.
The presence of Koki and self-made Javelin thrower Julius Yego in Team Kenya is a positive break through that has set a new precedent indicating the country is capable of producing champions in technical events after the nation domination in the track events for decades.
Yego, aka Mr. YouTube, also the Commonwealth champion, goes to the championship with buoyancy and as the top thrower of the season after overstretching his muscles in hauling the object to a distant 91.36metres, his all-time best.
Although she did not have to break a sweat during the weekend at Safaricom Stadium in Nairobi, Koki landed the windmill after qualitative performance during the national championship where she set a new national record of 55.82 which is beyond the requisite 56.20 set for the championship.
On another new development in team named after two days of engagement, sprinters have not been left behind as they will be bargaining for recognition with Mike Mokamba and United State-based Kelvin Nkanata featuring in 200metres men line-up.
Others short distant athletes who are making the team include Alphas Kishoyan with 45.02 in 400metres, Joyce Zakari and Maureen Chelagat in women 400metres and the trio of Nicholas Bett, Boniface Mucheru and Haron Koech who posted 48.29, 49.24 and 49.50 in men’s 400metres hurdles. The requirement is 49.50.
Sprints and technical events notwithstanding, the squad has a blend of experienced championship big-timers with never-aging Ezekiel Kemboi, Asbel Kiprop, Edwin Soi, Viola Kibiwott and Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei going for their traditional appearances in the biannual competitions.
Kemboi, also a two-time Olympic champion, will be making his 7th entry into the World championship since 2003 where he has managed to win 3 gold and 3 silver medals. Kiprop, who missed the podium in 2007 and 2009, will appear for the 5th time and looking for a 3rd consecutive victory after 2011 and 2013.
Apart from the two, Eunice Sum and Mercy Cherono will be out to defend the 800 and 5,000metres title while Vivian Cheruiyot, who rumbled with double victory in 2011, will be gunning up for a second crown in the women 10,000metres.
In marathon, Ednah Kiplagat and record holders Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimeto goes to the championship with rich history and Kenyans would be counting on them for glory. Kiplagat is itching for a historical 3rd victory in succession.
Not to be underrated in the team is a cluster of young talents who are bubbling with ambition of inscribing their names in the world athletics map.
Ferguson Rotich (800m), Elijah Motonei (1,500m), Jairus Birech, Conseslus Kipruto and Virginia Nyambura (3,000metres SC), Emmanuel Kipsang and Irene Cheptai (5,000m) and Betty Saina and Bedan Karoki (10,000metres) are in the team by merit and their brilliant out-come should not surprise athletics fraternity as the team jet out of the country.
FULL TEAM TO BEIJING
2000 metres men;
400 metres Women
400M Men Hurdles,
400M Women Hurdles
VIOLA CHEPTOO LAGAT
3,000M SC Men
BRIMIN KIP RUTO
3,000M SC Women
KARIOKI PAUL KIPNGETICH
JAVELIN JULIUS YEGO
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