Chepkirui out as Kenya names World Under-20 team

Tuesday June 12 2018

Solomon Lekuta (050) celebrates after crossing the finishing line ahead of Kingetich Ngeno (229) to win the 800m race during the World Under-20 Championship trials at the Kasarani Stadium on June 12, 2018. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Solomon Lekuta (050) celebrates after crossing the finishing line ahead of Kingetich Ngeno (229) to win the 800m race during the World Under-20 Championship trials at the Kasarani Stadium on June 12, 2018. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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By BENARD ROTICH
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World Under-20 3,000m silver medallist, Emmaculate Chepkirui was a major casualty as Athletics Kenya named 27 athletes to represent the country at the World Under-20 Championships due July 10-15 in Tampere, Finland.

World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase silver medallist, Cleophas Kandie also failed to make the team during the two-day national trials which ended Tuesday at the Kasarani Stadium.

Chepkirui, who also won silver in the 3,000m at last year’s IAAF World Under-18 in Nairobi, failed the test during the trials, where nine medallists from the World Under-18 team graduated to the junior ranks in style by making it to the Tampere-bound side.

They include Samson Ndingiti (walk race-bronze), Mary Moraa (400m-silver) and Moitalel Mpoke (400m hurdles-silver).

World Under-18 gold medallists’ Leonard Bett (2,000m steeplechase), Jackline Wambui (800m), George Manangoi (1,500m) and Caren Chebet (2,000m steeplechase) also made it alongside Edward Zakayo and Stanley Waithaka, who won silver and bronze in 3,000m and Lydia Jeruto, the World Under-18 800m silver medallist.

Also in the team in the only field event is men’s triple jump athlete Philip Musyoka.

Chepkirui finished a distant eighth in the women’s 3,000m race in 9:21.59, as primary school pupils Zena Jemutai (South Rift) and Mercy Chepkorir (South Rift) claimed the two tickets.

Jemutai clocked 9:06.92 beating Chepkorir to second in 9:06.96.

Chepkirui attributed her dismal performance to lack of training, having just recovered from a hamstring injury, while Jemutai, a class seven pupil at Keringet Boarding Primary School, said good training back at home did the trick.

"I narrowly missed out on the World Under-18 team after finishing third last year and therefore had to get everything right this time,” said Jemutai.

Kandie saw his dream for Tampere go up in smoke when he finished third in 8:30.43 in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, where Bett turned on the heat, clocking 8:21.40 to win ahead of Philemon Kiplagat who timed 8:26.52.

Bett and Kiplagat vowed to uphold Kenya's dominance at the junior event where the country is yet to lose since the second edition in 1988.

"We have no choice but to maintain our steeplechase reign in Tampere," said Bett. "Winning at home shows that I'm in good shape and I will be going for nothing short of victory."

Ndingiti, the World Under-18 10,000m race walk bronze medallist, clocked 42:03.30 to win his event and qualify, as Moraa timed 54.94 seconds to triumph, beating the qualifying standard time of 55.00 seconds.

Moraa will be the sole Kenyan in the race after second-placed Grace Nyakai (Central), who timed 56.75, failed to qualify.

"The battle was tight but my joy is that I made it. I won't just go to Tampere to add on the numbers, I am targeting a medal," said Moraa, a Form four student at Mogonga High School.

Mpoke timed 50.87 to prevail in the men's 400m hurdles, as James Mucheru (Nairobi) clocked 51.23 for second place to all book their tickets.

Zakayo, the Commonwealth 5,000m bronze medallist, and Waithaka, the National Cross Country Under-20 champion, strutted to a 1-2 finish in 13:19.74 and 13:23.67 in the men's 5,000m to earn their berths.