World Cross Country bronze medallist Lilian Kasait beat Africa 10,000m champion Alice Aprot in the women's 5,000m title at the Kenya Prisons Service Athletics Championships at Kasarani on Friday.
Commonwealth 800m silver medallist Margaret Nyairera the won both her 400m and 200m heats to qualify for the final as Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Cellphine Chespol claimed victory in her 800m qualifying race to also reach the final.
World 1,500m silver Timothy Cheruiyot and Indunil Herathi from Sri Lanka were impressive in their respective 800m races to set up a potentially explosive final due Saturday.
Kasait, the former World Under-18 3,000m champion, exchanged the leads with Aprot, before the World Cross Country bronze medallist kicked at the bell to triumph in 15 minutes and 32.6 minutes.
Aprot, who failed to finish her 10,000m race during the Commonwealth Games trials, looked like she had regained her form, clocking 15:35.4 for second place with Catherine Syokau coming third in 16:02.5 while 2016 Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho timed 16:23.1 for fourth.
“This forms part of my preparations for the national championships,” said Kasait, who finished third in 5,000m to miss out during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games trials. Kasait, 21, finished sixth in 3,000m in Doha on May 4 before settling fifth at Eugene in the Prefontaine Classic on May 26.
Though a form four candidate this year, Prisons head coach Gedion Chirchir said Kasait will form their 5,000m team at the nationals with Aprot that will double up as trials for the Africa Senior Champions starting Thursday next week at Kasarani.
Aprot, who finished fourth in 10,000m at Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships, and Jepkesho will form the Prisons team for 10,000m. “I wasn’t feeling well during the Commonwealth trials but I am back,” said Aprot.
Nyairera, the Olympics 800m bronze medal, clocked 24.9, winning the first 200m semi-final, beating Damaris Akoth to second in 25.3 as both qualified for the final.
They will take on the national 400m hurdles champion Maureen Jelagat, who won the second semi-final and the third semis winner Vivian Michira, who timed 24.7.
Nyairera, the 2016 National 400m champion, won the 400m semi-final in 58.04 to set up the final against other semi-finals winners Vivian Michira and Mercy Adijah, who timed 59.81 and 1:00.49 respectively.
Chespol, who has set her sights on retaining the World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase next month in Finland after winning the national trials on Monday, clocked 2:06.7 to win her 800m semi-final.
Chespol edged out World Under-18 800m champion Jackline Wambui to second in 2:08.9.
Cheruiyot and Herathi won their heats in 1:46.9 and 1:47.6 respectively to reach the final.
The two-day championships have been sponsored to a time of Sh3.5 million by Safaricom, County Pension Fund, Coca Cola Company, Magereza Sacco Society, Prisons Sports Council, Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Cooperative Bank of Kenya and Athletics Kenya.