Masai, Chepkurui first to make world championships mark

Friday June 26 2009

Lineth Chepkurui (8188) leads the pack in the 10 000m race during the National Athletics championship at Nyayo Stadium. Linet Masai won the race followed by Lineth Chepkurui. Both have now qualified for the world championships in Berlin. Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO

Lineth Chepkurui (8188) leads the pack in the 10 000m race during the National Athletics championship at Nyayo Stadium. Linet Masai won the race followed by Lineth Chepkurui. Both have now qualified for the world championships in Berlin. Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO 

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

Linet Masai, the World Cross Country silver medallist, and Lineth Chepkurui, fourth in Amman in the 8km senior women race, are the first to secure tickets to the World Championship in Berlin.

Masai, 19, continued to redefine the history of 10,000m race as she threw down the gauntlet to her senior opponents on Friday at the New KCC National Athletics Championship staged at Nyayo Stadium, but got no challenger to win in 32:49.3.

However, it was Chepkurui, the Kenyan captain to the world cross country championship, who showed a true fighting spirit. She was forced to have a massage by physiotherapist Peter Nduhio, had her right foot tied with a bandage, but that did not deter her from attaining her desired goal of, secure a ticket to Berlin.

Automatic qualification

She came second in 32:57.3 ahead of Japan-based Philes Ongori 33:04.1, who fainted after crossing the finish line and had to be attended to by the paramedics. Both Chepkurui and Masai got the automatic berth while Ongori, is likely to be selected through the wild card having finished third.

“I am happy to win the race and get a ticket to Berlin. The pace was a bit slow and I am not concerned with that,” said Masai. “I will now go and focus on improving on my sprint for Berlin.”

Masai, who ran 14:35.39 in New York to beat Olympic and World champion Tirunesh Dibaba 14:40.93 in the shorter 5,000m race in May, is not concerned with the challenge, the Ethiopian will provide in Berlin.

“I do train to be in good form. I beat her in May, but it will be three months before we meet again. I do not know how she is training,:” she said.

Now, Masai will head to London to compete in the 3,000m race where she will be seeking to work on her speed and finishing kick, which has been her weak point depriving her of the gold in the World cross Country in March Amman, and bronze medal in Beijing Olympics last year.

Fighting spirit

However, it was Chepkurui, the Kenyan captain to the world cross country championship, that showed a true fighting spirit.

A soldier by profession Chepkurui fought hard to triumph in two battles. She had a nagging ankle injury that she was forced dress up by physiotherapist Peter Nduhio, but it did not kill the pain.

“I cant believe I finished second here. I was not sure I will even run by on Friday. My foot was sour and it had flared up because of training. I had a hamstring injury on my left leg last year as we came into the cross country season. It is healed. But now, I got the ankle on my right leg to contend with,” she said.

But she was certain, she will be able to shake it off ahead of the clash in Berlin.

“The last 150m were really hard on me. The pain was too much, but the reward of a ticket to Berlin was more attracting and am happy I went through it triumphantly,” she said.

Ongori, running for South Nyanza was third in 33:04.1 ahead of Peninah Arusei 33:16.9, the athlete who caused a stir in the Kenyan camp in Beijing Olympics when she was brought in to replace Grace Momanyi at the last minute.