Kenya’s focus is in London and Bahamas

Friday April 21 2017

Kipyegon Bett leads Fergusson Rotich to the finish line in the men’s 800m race on April 1, 2017 during the World Relays Championship Trials at Kasarani Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kipyegon Bett leads Fergusson Rotich to the finish line in the men’s 800m race on April 1, 2017 during the World Relays Championship Trials at Kasarani Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Fatigued Team Kenya will have little time to rest, having just arrived 24 hours to the IAAF World Relays Championships that starts Sunday at 2.35am, Kenyan time, at the Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas.

They will be the main focus this weekend along with Kenya’s elite marathon stars who will like up at the London Marathon Sunday morning.  

The Kenyan sprinters who left Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon were expected in Nassau at 5pm Friday, but that was delayed owing to some flight delay in New York where the team was set for the final connection. 

Kenya’s medals hunt begins in women’s 4x800 metres final starting at 5pm where experienced Sylvia Chesebe, who has been to the previous two editions, leads a quartet that includes  2012 Africa 1,500m silver medallist Mary Kuria and 2016 Africa 800m bronze medallist Emily Cherotich.

The only surviving member of that team is Eglay Nalianya but the technical bench also has Josephine Chelagat to choose from.

“There should be no worry this time since we have trained well and our target is the podium finish,” said Chesebe.

“The coaches and the athletes played their role in training and we are good to go.”

Chesebe said the USA and Austria remain their biggest threat. “They have won the last two events but roles are about to change and Kenya should bring in a new world order,” said Chesebe.

After producing a minor upset victory over favourites Kenya in 2014, the USA dominated the event in 2015, clocking 8:00.62 to beat runner-up Poland by nearly 11 seconds. Chanelle Price, Maggie Vessey, Molly Ludlow and Alysia Montano teamed to produce the fastest time in the event in more than 20 years.

Price, the 2014 World Indoor champion, is the only surviving member from the 2014 and 2015 that won the 4x800m titles. She leads a strong USA team that has Laura Roesler, Charlene Lipsey, Chrishuna Williams and Kendra Chambers.

Poland, who clocked an 8:11.36 national record two years ago, return with one member of that quartet, 2014 World Indoor silver medallist Angelika Cichocka while the Australian squad, who finished third on both previous occasions, is led by national champion Lora Storey, Abbey de la Motte (2:02.19) and Heidi See (2:03:51).

However, the 4x200m women’s team of Patriciah Abonwa, Damaris Akoth, Peris Chege, Mary Chepkoech and Maximila Imal will have a lot to prove when they start the proceedings on Sunday at 2.35am. The final will go down at 5.21am.

The women and men’s 4x400m heats go down at 3.31am and 4.12am respectively with the mix relays coming at 4.48am where Kenya will be well represented.

As with most of the sprint relay events, the women’s 4x200m is expected to come down to another showdown in the ongoing USA-Jamaica rivalry what with defending champions Nigeria also out to prove that their 2015 victory wasn’t a fluke.

Nigeria will be looking to the experienced Blessing Okagbare, the 200m and long jump bronze medallist at the 2013 World Championships, for guidance.

Kenya have Evangeline Makena, Grace Kidake, Veronica Mutua, Catherine Nandi and Jacinter Shikanda to choose from for the women’s 4x400m battle while the men’s team has Collins Omae, Geoffrey Kiprotich, Alphas Kishoyian and Boniface Mweresa.

Kenya is eying to put their two 4x400m teams in top eight so as to qualify for the World Championships slated for August in London.