World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Leonard Bett wants to graduate to senior ranks in style by making steeplechase team for World Championships slated for September 27 to October 6 in Doha.
The 20-year-old Bett said the experience he has gained from the Diamond League, where he made his debut last year, places him in good stead of battling bigwigs in Kenya’s traditional race at the World Championships and Olympic Games.
Bett launched his Diamond League campaign last year at Birmingham where he finished fourth then settled 11th in Zurich to close the season. This year, he came in third in Doha in personal best 8:08.61, then posted a fourth place finish in Rabat before coming 11th in Monaco.
“This has given me enough training and I am ready for the trials. I thank God for the good health and hope that will flow to Doha,” said Bett, who was going through his final touches at the Nyayo National Stadium on Tuesday under coach John Kimetto.
“I have been polishing on my barrier clearance and speed and for sure a place in the team to Doha will mean a lot to me and my career,” explained Bett, who dispelled fears that Kenya’s dominance at the World event faces imminent danger. “Well, there are those fears but I believe we have strong athletes capable of upholding our dominance.”
Bett said Kenya should send a strong squad in steeplechase including defending champion Conseslus Kipruto. “We are aware Kipruto has been battling injury but I am confident he will be as fit as fiddle come the world event,” said Bett. “But again, we are rich in talent with the likes of Benjamin Kigen, myself and others.”
Kenyan athletes have won 12 out of the 16 steeplechase events at the World Championships since inception at 1983 Helsinki. Kenya only lost in 2003 Saint-Denis and 2005 Helsinki since the third edition of the event in 1991 where Kenyan-born Stephen Cherono of Qatar won.
“He is a focused youngster and there is a lot in store for him to achieve,” said Kimetto. “I made his skip two Diamond League races just to concentrate in the trials."