The chase is on for qualification times of the Senior Africa Athletics Championship. World Indoor 1,500m bronze medallist African champion Haron Keitany will be among those in action.
Also expected at the fourth Athletics Kenya/New KCC weekend meeting on Thursday in Mumias will be Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo.
Keitany has his personal best time over 1500m set at 3:30.20. His agent Barnabas Korir, who is also the AK Nairobi branch chairman, confirmed that Keitany will be in Mumias seeking a return to the form that saw him cruise to the victory in Addis Ababa in 2008.
“I know from my camp that Keitany and Jelimo will be in Mumias. The race is on to help them get back to their peak form ahead of the start of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha in May 14.
Injuries have been partly to blame for slow rise of Keitany to the world stage. After his victory in the African Championships, he missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 after he finished fourth during the national trials and didn’t start the semi final race at the World Championship in Berlin after pulling out with a serious ankle injury.
AK is prepared for a huge turn out as they seek to get the entire country sensitised on the coming Africa Championship and voted to take the race to Mumias, a venue that of late has not staged any top class championship. The Mumias Sugar Complex Stadium track has been given a face lift and correct marking according to acceptable specifications under the leadership of John Velzian, the regional director of IAAF.
Going by the attendance at the past two meetings in Nyeri and Nakuru, Mumias is expected to attract even more runners given the proximity to athletics-rich zones of Nandi, Mount Elgon, North Rift, Kericho and Kisii.
“We expect over 1,500 athletes in Mumias with 5,000m and 800m races again expected to attract the highest number of runners.
“In Nakuru, 304 athletes ran in the 5,000m. Among athletes expected are Olympic champions Pamela Jelimo (800m) and Asbel Kiprop (1,500m). Jelimo ran in Nakuru and Kiprop in Nyeri and Nakuru,” said Peter Angwenyi, the AK public relations officer.
The 3,000m steeplechase is expected to feature for the first time since the season started in Kisumu last month. Officials have also carried starting blocs for sprinters.
There will also be a seminar for journalists from Western province due to start this morning at the Mumias Sugar Complex Conference Hall. This will be a fourth seminar for local journalists to publicise the African Senior Championships to be held in Nairobi on July 28 to August 1.
Other seminars were held in Kisumu, Nyeri and Nakuru to coincide with the weekend meetings. Top athletics officials, led by Local Organising Committee Chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, and Chief Executive Officer, David Okeyo will be there.