African 1,500m champion Haron Keitany will be casting his net wider when he seeks to ruffle the seeding order in the four-lap race at the World Championship in Berlin, Germany, from August 15-24.
He missed the trip to Beijing Olympics after Nicholas Kemboi edged him out, but Keitany is keen to wrest the fame from the glare of the Olympic champion in waiting Asbel Kiprop and Augustine Choge, who boasts the season’s best time of 3:29.4.
“We have all prepared well. But we must get the required mileage to challenge at the World Championship. It might be just a race of three minutes, but preparation is all that counts,” said Keitany.
The 25-year-old set a personal best time of 3:30.20 while trailing Choge in Berlin in July and his second finish at the trials is an indication of his determination to secure a global title.
Kiprop, who desires to be crowned on the track, however wants to correct the technical error he made two years ago in Osaka. Fourth behind compatriot Shadrack Korir then, he wants to rewrite Kenya’s history in the race by winning gold in Berlin.
Kenya has never won gold in the four-lap race but has been credited with three 1,500m silvers at the championship – 1,500m through Wilfred Kirochi (1991), Noah Ngeny (1999) and Bernard Lagat (2001), who is now an American.
Ngeny has since cautioned Kiprop against resting on his laurels.
“There is no guarantee that he will win gold in Berlin. The 1,500m race is a tough and tactical race. No one is assured of victory. His confirmation as Olympic Champion should only act as an inspiration for him to seek better performance,” Ngeny said recently.
Ngeny said Kiprop, Choge and Keitany are the best in the country at the moment and need to work together to lock out the opposition in Berlin.
Head coach Peter Mathu, who is replacing Julius Kirwa, started off the team’s preparations with endurance training which every athlete in camp, irrespective of their speciality, is expected to undergo.
Augustine Choge, Viola Kibiwott, Florence Kiplagat, Bernard Kipyego and Eliud Kipchoge were due to report to camp yesterday. The five had been excempted from early reporting to enable them condole their colleagues Brimin Kipruto and Vivian Cheruiyot, who lost their mothers.
Mathu’s deadline expires today morning when Kipruto and Cheruiyot are expected at Kasarani. Yesterday afternoon, the team trained at Nyayo National Stadium.
Kenya have a daunting task to retain or improve on their second position, having clinched five gold, five silver and three bronze in Osaka in 2007 to finish behind the United States.
Meanwhile, athletes seeking to gauge their preparedness for the World Championship will converge at the Stockholm Grand Prix meeting tonight before the qualification window closes. Stockholm is the last stop on the IAAF World Athletics Tour before the Berlin finale, the biggest sporting event on the planet in 2009.
The World Championships in Athletics is the jewel in the crown of the IAAF World Athletics Series competition programme, the third-largest sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games and Fifa World Cup.