Kenya will start their medal hunt in the women’s 3000m and men’s 3,000m steeplechase finals on Thursday when the 12th Africa Junior Championships begins at the Addis Ababa Stadium, Ethiopia.
Sandra Chebet and Jackline Chepkoech take to the track in the women’s 3,000m race that get underway at 5.00pm before Abraham Kibiwott and Vincent Kipyegon compete in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase at 5.30pm.
Chebet won the national trials in 9:18.0, beating Chepkoech, who represented Kenya at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
The two will be hoping to reclaim the title which Kenya lost to Ethiopia in the last two championships in Botswana (2011) and Mauritius (2013).
In the last edition, Haftamnesh Tesfay Haylu clocked 9:32.33 to win, relegating Kenya’s Sheila Chepng’etich (9:32.97) to silver while another Ethiopian, Roman Giday Berhe, claimed bronze in 9:36.41.
Veronica Ngososei of Kenya settled for bronze in Botswana, clocking 10:06.52, losing the battle to Ethiopians Birtukan Adamu (9:53.80) and Zewdnesh Belachew (10:02.99).
Kenya last won the event in 2009 in Mauritius when Elizabeth Mueni clocked 9:58.55.
In the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Kibiwott might have prevailed at the national trials in 8:39.7, beating Kipyegon in 8:41.7 but both have a battle at hand as they defend the title Kenya won in Mauritius.
Festus Kiprono won in 8:38.99 to uphold Kenya’s steeplechase legacy.
Dominant Kenya have only lost twice in the long distance hurdle event in the last 11 editions; the inaugural competition in 1994 and 2003.
Other Kenyan winners are Gilbert Kirui (2011), Jonathan Muia Ndiku (2009), Abel Mutai (2007), Willy Komen (2005), Ezekiel Kemboi (2001), Raymond Yator (1999), Reuben Kosgei (1997) and Charles Kwambai (1995).
Kenya finished fifth overall in the previous event with 17 medals; four gold, nine silver and four bronze.
Nigeria claimed the overall title with 9-7-3 followed by South Africa 7-9-8, Ethiopia 7-7-8 and Egypt 5-4-2. Kenya last won the overall title in 2007 in Burkina Faso.