Is Augustine Choge back? That was the question as the 2012 World Indoor 3,000m silver medallist won his second 3,000m race in four days at the Karlsruhe Indoor Meeting Saturday night in Germany.
The 2006 Commonwealth champion, who is making a comeback from injury, beat World Indoor 3,000m champion Caleb Mwangangi and World Junior 5,000m champion Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha, clocking Seven minutes and 43.22 seconds.
Choge ran a tactical race, stepping on the gas pedal when Bethwell Birgen, who wanted to beat him at the last bend to win.
Kejelcha, the 2015 Africa Junior 5,000m champion, pulled from behind to beat Birgen on the line in 7:43.45 as Birgen settled third in 7:43.49.
Mwangangi, the World 5,000m silver medallist came fourth in 7:44.09.
Choge, who is eying a place in Kenya team for the World Indoor Championships due March 17-20 in Oregon, USA made his case clear when he won the 3,000m race at Duesseldorf Indoor Meet on Wednesday in Germany.
Choge dashed to a world lead time of 7:39.23, beating Mwangangi, the Commonwealth and Africa 5,000m champion to second in 7:39.82 in a 1-2 Kenyan victory in 3000m. Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew was placed third 7:40.24.
WORLD INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Choge had three weeks ago demonstrated that he was back from the injury problems which bedeviled him in 2015 with a strong performance at the Kenya Police Cross Country Championships, where he finished second, behind World Cross Country and World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor.
The 29-year-old Choge, who is also the 2012 World Indoor 3,000m silver medallist, said he is focused on representing Kenya at the World Indoor before turning to Rio Olympics Games in 5,000m.
Choge, who was born in Kapsabet, won his last medal for Kenya during the 2012 World Indoor Championships.
“It’s long since I won something for Kenya,” said Choge. “It has been a tough battle with tendon injury that has no cure apart from just relaxing to let it heal.”
Choge said he draws inspiration from his close friend David Rudisha, who had similar predicament but made a great return to reclaim his World 800m title last year in Beijing.
Rudisha, who won the 2012 London Olympics in world record time of 1:40.91, failed to defend his World title at the 2013 Championships in Moscow after undergoing a knee surgery.
He returned to win silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games before gold at the 2015 Beijing World Championships.
“My biggest focus is the Rio Olympics,” added the 2003 World Youth 3,000m and 2004 World Junior 5,000m champion.
With Choge’s interest, the national trials for the Rio Olympics promise to be pulsating with the Mwangangi, 2013 World 5,000m bronze medallist Isaiah Kiplangat, 2012 London Olympics 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa already eyeing slots in the team.
Kenya’s main challenger at the Olympics will definitely be the defending champion Mo Farah from Britain.
John Ngugi won Kenya its first and last 5,000m Olympic title during the 1988 Seoul Summer Games.
It is at the 2006 Commonwealth Games where Choge won gold, posting a Games record time of 12 minutes, 56.41 seconds.
He competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished tenth in the 1500m final.
Choge's debut at the World Championships was in 2009 where he finished fifth in the 1,500m final.
He was part of the Kenyan team that set a new 4x1,500m relay world record, 14:36.23, in the same year.
Other members of the team were William Biwott Tanui, Gideon Gathimba and Geoffrey Rono.
Another Kenyan quartet of Collins Cheboi, Silas Kiplagat, James Magut and Asbel Kiprop improved the record to 14:22.22 at the 2014 World Relays in Bahamas.