Kenya’s 20-kilometres race walk medal hopefuls Grace Wanjiru and David Kimutai have pledged splendid shows at the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games.
Three-time African champion Wanjiru was not close to her best form when she broke her own continental record last month in Nairobi.
But the 30-year-old is now ready to roll in Delhi where they plan a 1-2 podium finish with team mate Emily Wamucii despite both of them being ‘Club’ Games debutants.
After being away for more than a year, Wanjiru retained her title at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Nairobi in a record-breaking one minute 34.19 seconds, clipping over four minutes off the mark she had set in Addis Ababa in 2008.
“Although I retained my African title in record time, I wasn’t in my best shape following the break,” said Wanjiru.
“I am well prepared and my colleague Wamucii is too. We manage a 1-2 finish, God willing.”
Wanjiru won her first African 10m race walk medal, bronze, in 2002 before asserting her prowess in all the next editions after the event was upgraded to 20km in 2004.
Can’t wait to wear the gold
“I can’t wait to wear that gold.”
Consequently, Kimutai, who won silver at the Africa Athletics Championships in August as he turned 40, hopes to put his experience to good use. He will team up with Silvanus Wekesa and Josephat Sirma.
“I had some hip discomfort during the Africa championships but the problem is gone and I am ready to roll,” said Kimutai, a father of three from Sotik.
It will be Kimutai’s fourth Commonwealth appearance, his most outstanding outing being bronze in Manchester 2002. In his debut in Kuala Lumpur ’98 he was fourth, as he was in the Melbourne 2006 games.
Twenty-third and 19th in Atlanta ’96 and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, respectively, Kimutai also won All Africa Games silver in Harare (1995) and Algiers (2007).
“The girls are as strong as ever and the men are spoiling for battle. We have high hopes,” said the race walk coach, George Kariuki.