Kenya's sprints sensation looks beyond Doha

Wednesday September 11 2019

Kenya Defence Forces' Nicholas Chirchir competes in the men's 400 metres hurdles during the National Athletics Championships at Nyayo National Stadium on August 20, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |


Nicholas Chirchir, the Kenya Defence Forces’ 400 metres hurdler, will be a man on a mission at the World Championships in Doha.

Chirchir, who draws great lessons from the 2015 World Under-18 Championships and 2016 World Under-20 Championships, will be out not only to reclaim Kenya’s world 400m hurdles title, but also try to break the national record.

While Chirchir will be using the national trials, that start today at the Nyayo National Stadium, as his build-up for the September 28 to October 6 Doha championships, his eyes are trained further on hitting next year’s Tokyo Olympics qualifying time.

Chirchir is the only Kenyan athlete to have qualified in 400m hurdles for the World Championships, having attained the time when winning his heat during the National Championships in 49.30 seconds.

Chirchir, who is a senior private at the KDF, later won his maiden national 400m hurdles title in 49.40.

The late Nicholas Bett made history as the first Kenyan to win a sprints event at the World Championships when he stormed to victory in the 400m hurdles at the 2015 Beijing event.


Then Boniface Mucheru faltered at the last hurdle to settle for silver but in a national record time of 47.78 at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The qualifying time for the World Championships in men’s 400m hurdles is 49.30 while the time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is 48.90.

“I am glad to have attained the qualifying time for Doha but the trials are quite crucial for me since I don’t have to wait any longer to hit the Tokyo Olympics time when I am enjoying good form,” said Chirchir.

“I qualified for Doha at the heats and I want to make Tokyo at Nyayo tomorrow.”

Chirchir, the KDF champion, tripped and fallen while scaling the hurdles during the heats at both the 2015 World Under-18 and Under-20 Championships, but he never gave up on his dream.

Chirchir got to represent Kenya in 2015 and 2016 while in form three and four respectively at Koibeiyo Secondary School in Bomet County.

“I only got to face the hurdles at county and national level while in school,” said Chirchir, who was training in Nyeri before the African Games trials and KDF Championships.

“Interestingly, I had not practiced with the hurdles before the trials for African Games where I also fell.

“It’s when I stayed in Nairobi to familiarise with the hurdles that I performed well at the KDF and national events.