Athletics head coach Julius Kirwa has challenged upcoming athletes who shone at the Eldoret New KCC track and field meeting in the absence of elite runners to prove their consistency during the final round of the series in Mombasa on Friday.
Kirwa was however categorical that athletes who have missed the weekend circuit meetings may not join the national team to the World Athletics Championship scheduled for August in Berlin, Germany.
“I am impressed by the performance in Eldoret and the previous races. But I want them to maintain the bar high even in Mombasa, especially the sprinters. Let them use the advantage of altitude and force Athletics Kenya to enter them in qualifying championship where they can set required times,” Kirwa said.
National 100m champion Thomas Musinde of Kenya Navy, Mtongwe, threw down the gauntlet and Kipkemboi Soi of Kahawa Barracks had no doubt in picking it up as he left fans yearning for more.
At the high altitude of 2,100 metres above sea level, Soi clocked an impressive 10.3 seconds, missing the world qualifying time of 10.2 by just one second.
“At this altitude, it was a strong performance for Soi,” said sprints coach Steven Mwaniki. “In Mombasa, we expect him to dip under the 10.2 mark and qualify.”
The runners had to contend with not only an irregular murram track but also strong winds and intense sun in Eldoret. But as they run on tartan in Mombasa, they expect a cool breeze and low altitude.
“There is intense competition in the sprint races. In women, we have Joyce Zakary of Police and Kenya Prisons’ Florence Wasike. They missed the Olympics narrowly, but they might get their chance for Berlin,” Mwaniki said.
Wasike ran a personal best of 56.86 seconds last year in Nairobi and is seeking the required 55.50 to make the cut-off mark in the 400m hurdles.
Eldoret also confirmed the supremacy of World Cross Country 8km champion Florence Kiplagat, who is looking to renew her rivalry with Linet Masai, the silver medallist in Amman, in the 10,000m.
Joseph Ebuya, an Osaka World Championship 5,000m finalist, ran his first race in 1,500m after a year in military training.