It’s a girls’ day out today with four gallant Kenyan women out to flag the country’s flag higher up as Mary Keitany seeks to add the Olympic marathon title to the Virgin Marathon honours she earned here earlier in the year.
And in the ring, Elizabeth Andiege, the sole Kenyan boxer wearing gloves here after flyweight Benson Gicharu was eliminated earlier in the week, takes on Kazakhstan’s 2010 World Championships light heavyweight silver medallist, Marina Volnova, in the opening round of the middleweight (75kg) competition.
Sunday’s action comes after Kenya’s Olympic officials successfully lodged a protest that saw Nixon Chepseba allowed to run in the 1,500m semi-finals after he was tripped in his heat on Friday night. He now joins defending champion Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat in the semi-finals from 8.15pm Sunday night (10.15pm Kenyan time).
Kenya will also be chasing a clean sweep in the men’s steeplechase from 9.25pm (11.25pm Kenyan time) tonight in a busy day of action that also features the eagerly-awaited men’s 100m final that will follow the steeplechase at 9.50pm (11.50pm).
Meanwhile, a congested chest knocked Lydia Rotich out of the women’s steeplechase final yesterday as the season’s leading runner Milcah Chemos Cheywa and Mercy Wanjiku Njoroge both coasted into Monday night’s final. Both Chemos (9:27.09) and Wanjiku (9:25.99) were second in their heats with Rotich (9:42.03) finishing eighth in her heat.
“It’s tough and the competition, especially from the Russian girls is quite high. All I wanted is to qualify with a big Q (automatic qualification) rather than with a small q (qualification as fastest loser),” Chemos said after making it from the same heat as world record holder Gulnara Galkina of Russia. In today’s marathon, Keitany is the fastest in the field, and in the world, this year with her 2:18.37 from April’s Virgin London Marathon where she led a clean Kenyan sweep with Edna Kiplagat (personal best 2:19.50) second and Prisca Jeptoo third.
World champion Kiplagat and Jeptoo make up the Kenyan team along with Keitany, and the biggest threat will be posed by Ethiopians Aselefech Mergia (2:19.52 at this year’s Dubai Marathon) and another sub-2:20 runner Tiki Gelana, winner in Rotterdam in April (2:18.58).
Mergia trained in Iten early this year at the High Altitude Training Centre owned by Kenya-born Dutchwoman, Lornah Kiplagat, who will also be in action for the Netherlands today along with her cousin Hilda Kibet. Look out for other ex-Kenyans Isabella Andersson (Sweden) and Lucia Kimani-Marcetic (Bosnia).
Sunday night’s steeplechase final will be a fight between world champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who finished his qualifying heat on lane seven, and world champion Brimin Kipruto.