Upsets and thrills were in plenty Saturday, with new stars bracing strong battle from seasoned athletes to emerge as Athletics Kenya picked a squad of 49 athletes yesterday for the World Championships due August 4-13 in London.
A day after a new order was declared in men’s 5,000 metres race, United States-based Emmanuel Korir and Raymond Kibet upset form books in men’s 800m and 400m to make Team Kenya.
The World Championships trials at the Nyayo national Stadium witnessed the continued glide to stardom by World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Cellphine Chespol, with victory in women’s 3,000m steeplechase where Commonwealth champion Purity Kirui hit back to form to qualify.
Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich and Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri exhibited why they are in a class of their own over the distances with comfortable victories that sounded war drums to their rivals.
World javelin champion Julius Yego thrilled crowds at Nyayo, registering the best ever throw on Kenyan soil of 87.97 metres. He is Kenya’s only representatives in the event.
The trio of World 10,000m Geoffrey Kamworor, Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Paul Tanui and World Half marathon silver medallist were at it again with a great show in men’s 10,000m.
But will Kamworor and company deliver victory this time round after falling short at the 2015 World Championships and Rio Olympic Games?
As expected Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera won women’s 800m race where 2013 World 800m champion Eunice Sum finished second to signal her return to form with Emily Cherotich just sneaking in on time.
Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Consenslus Kipruto will lead a strong team of four times reigning champion Ezekiel Kemboi, 2009 World champion Brimin Kipruto and Jairus Birech to the World Championships.
Korir caused a major upset in men’s 800m when he floored well-known athletes to victory for his maiden World Championships ticket. Korir clocked 1min, 43.86sec, beating World Under-20 800m champion Kipyegon Bett and Michael Saruni in 1:44.04 and 1:44.61 respectively.
But it’s Korir and Bett, who got the node alongside 2016 Diamond League Series winner Ferguson Rotich, who finished fourth in 1:44.86 and Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha.
“I am so delighted to make my debut for Kenya after I missed the Africa Championships and Rio Olympics last year,” said Korir, who is based in Texas, USA.
Nyairera returned 1:59.68 to qualify alongside Eunice Sum and Cherotich who clocked 2:00.3 and 2:00.18.
Kibet clocked 45.60 seconds to brush aside Alphas Kishoyian and African Games 400m silver medallist Boniface Mweresa in 45.74 and 45.91.
However, it’s only Kibet and National champion Collins Omae who have attained the World Championships time. Omae slipped off the blocks to finish fifth in 46.52.
It was a breathtaking exchange of leads lads but it’s Kamworor, who led at the bell and never looked back to win in 27:35.91 beating Karoki and Tanui to second and third in 27:40.32 and 27:42.63. “I am going for nothing short of victory this time round. I can’t continue playing second fiddle,” said Kamworor, the 2015 World 10,000m silver medallist.” But we must change tact to beat Mo Farah.”
Obiri will lead a team of African Games 5,000m champion Margaret Chelimo for the Worlds since Africa 5 000m champion Sheila Chepkirui, who finished third has no time. Obiri won the race in 15:28.89 while Chelimo and Chepkirui clocked 15:30.71 and 15:33.57.
Chepng'etich returned 4:05.74 to beat Winnie Chebet to second in 4:06.78 as Sela Jepleting timed 4:09.45 for third.
FULL TEAM LIST
Men's 400m Hurdles: Haron Koech, Kiprono Kosgei, Nicholas Bett
Women’s 10,000m: Agnes Tirop, Irene Cheptai, Alice Aprot
Men's 200m: Mark Otieno
Women's 5000m: Hellen Obiri, Margaret Chelimo
Men’s 5000m: Cyrus Ruto, David Kiplagat
Women's 400m: Maximilla Imali
Men's 400m: Raymond Kibet, Alphas Kishioyan, Collins Omae
Men's Javelin: Julius Yego
Men's 1500m: Ronald Kwemoi, Timothy Cheruiyot, Elijah Manangoi, Asbel Kiprop
Women's 1500m: Faith Chepn'getich, Winnie Chebet
Women's 3000m steeplechase: Cellphine Chepsol, Beatrice Chepkoech, Purity Kirui, Hyvin Kiyeng
Men’s 3,00m steeplechase: Conseslus Kipruto, Birmin Kipruto, Jairus Birech, Ezekiel Kemboi
Women's 800m: Margaret Nyairera, Eunice Sum, Emily Cherotich
Men's 800m: Emmanuel Korir, Kipyegon Bett, Michael Saruni, Ferguson Rotich, David Rudisha
Triple jump: Elijah Kimitei
Men’s walk race: Samuel Gathimba, Simon Wachira
Women’s race walk: Grace Wanjiru
Men's Marathon: Daniel Wanjiru, Geoffrey Kirui, Gideon Kipketer
Women’s marathon: Edna Kiplagat, Hela Kiprop, Flomena Cheyech