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'Eldoret Express' to return at African Games trials

Wednesday June 19 2019

Former World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei (left) and her training mate Eunice Sum training at the University of Eldoret grounds in the past. PHOTO | FILE  |

Former World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei (left) and her training mate Eunice Sum training at the University of Eldoret grounds in the past. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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The 2007 World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei is set to make a comeback during the Athletics Kenya trials for the African Games starting Thursday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

It will be the first time Jepkosgei is taking to track in a competitive race since the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China.

The 35-year-old Jepkosgei took a maternity break after the Beijing World Championships.

“I never thought it would be this enjoyable hence my decision to relish the break with my daughter,” the 2009 Berlin and 2011 Daegu World 800-m silver medallist said on Wednesday.

Jepkosgei’s daughter, Becky Olympia, will be turning three years in August this year.

Jepkosgei, the 2008 Beijing Olympics 800m silver medallist,  disclosed that even though she has been training, she stepped up her preparations in January this year under coach Claudio Berardelli in Eldoret.

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She has been training together with her protégé, the 2013 World 800m champion Eunice Sum.

“I just love running hence my move to try and see what will come from the trials after almost four years out,” said Jepkosgei, the 2002 World Junior and 2006 Commonwealth 800m champion. “You never know what will happen.

Jepkosgei fondly known as 'Eldoret Express' represented Kenya for the first time at the 1999 World Under-18 championships in Poland where she won bronze in 800.

Most athletes will be seeking to attain the qualifying standards for the continental event.

National 100 metres champions Mark Otieno and Joan Cherono will be under pressure to deliver in their respective categories as they take to the blocks in the semi-final of their events.

The African Games will take place from August 23 to September 3 in Casablanca, Morocco.

Otieno, who is also the national record holder (10.14), will be eying to beat the qualifying mark of 10.2 in his semi-final. where he is paired with Charles Wamwea and Samuel Chege among others.

Former national champion Pius Muia of Prisons goes down in the second semi-final where he faces the likes of Peter Mwai from Police and Moses Wasike while Stephen Barasa of Prisons highlights the fourth semi-final.

“Ï am well prepared, having recovered from a recurring hamstring injury sustained during the trials for the 2017 London World Championships,” said Muia. Ït will be a tough calling with the likes of Wamwea, Otieno and Barasa but I am ready for the challenge.”

Kenya Prisons physiotherapist Victor Momanyi works out with 200 metres runner Pius Muia on June 18 at Nyayo National Stadium in preparation for 2019 All Africa Games Trials. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kenya Prisons physiotherapist Victor Momanyi works out with 200 metres runner Pius Muia on June 18 at Nyayo National Stadium in preparation for 2019 All Africa Games Trials. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |NATION MEDIA GROUP

Cherono of Police, who has season best 11.8, goes down in the second semi-final while the national 100m record holder Maximilla Imali will highlight the first semi-final that has former national junior champion Damaris Akoth and Millicent Ndoro.

African Games 100m silver medallist Eunice Kadogo, who is also the national 200m champion, starts her quest in the third semi-final that has compatriot from Police Freshia Mwangi. The women will be trying to beat the qualifying mark of 11.7.

Hellen Syombua, who is the only woman to have hit the qualifying mark of 24.0 in women’s 200m, will compete in the second semi-final in women’s 200m that also has Freshia Mwangi. Syombua was in Kenya’s 4x400 mixed relay team that won bronze at the World Relay Championships.

Syombua clocked 23.6 in the World Relay trials at the Lorna Kiplagat Stadium to not only qualify for the African Games, but also the World Championships planned from September 28 to October 6.

Imali, who has season best 24.5, Africa Under-20 400m champion Mary Moraa (24.9) and Ndoro (24.08) are favourites to qualify from the other 200m semi-final races.

The men and women’s 5,000m semi-finals go down with some of Kenya’s finest women athletes like the World and Commonwealth champion Hellen Obiri missing in action.

Obiri, the World Cross Country champion, is among the many Kenyan athletes who have opted to compete at Prefontaine Classic due June 30 in USA.

However, there was good news in the men’s 5,000m when World Under-20 champion Edward Zakayo, who is fresh from winning in Rabat on Sunday, rescinded his decision to compete.

“I have seen it wise to compete after I talked to my coach Eric Maiyo but I hope fatigue won’t creep in,” said Zakayo, the Commonwealth bronze medallist.

World Under-20 and Under-18 1,500m champion George Manangoi and Africa Under-18 1,500m champion Vincent Keter will highlight the men’s 1,500m semi-final.

World and Commonwealth 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi and 2018 Diamond League Series winner Timothy Cheruiyot League will miss the action.

Top two finishing athletes in the final will qualify from their respective events to the Games with the panel of selectors deciding the third entry.

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