Kenyan youth warmed up for the IAAF World Under-18 Athletics Championships due in two months time with victory at the East and Central Africa Championships that ended Sunday in Dar es Salaam.
Team captain John Mwaniki led Kenya’s haul of 15 medals; eight gold, four silver and three bronze with victories in boys’ 800m and 1,500m.
Kenya, which was represented by eight athletes, retained the overall beating hosts Tanzania to second with 17 medals; seven gold, seven silver and four bronze. Zanzibar was third with four gold, five silver and four bronze medals.
Mwaniki clocked 3 minutes and 51.75 seconds to win the 1,500m final before going for a double in the 800m in a time of 1:55.00.
“We had good preparations and I hope that continues until the World Under-18 championships,” said Mwaniki, who hopes to make Team Kenya for the world youth competition planned for July 12-16 at Kararani.
Mwaniki, who draws his inspiration from the three-time World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, who is also the 2008 Olympic champion, is confident that Kenya will clinch the overall title during the world event.
“The performance in Tanzania despite a small team is a clear indication that we shall reign supreme,” said the 16-year-old, who is a form two student at Kagondo Secondary School in Nyahururu.
Immaculate Chepkirui, who won silver in 5,000m for Kenya at last year's World Under-20 Championships in Poland, added more medals to her collection with victories in the girls’ 3,000m and 4x400m relays.
“I just can’t wait for the World youth event…I am more than ready,” declared Chepkirui, 17, who is a student at Kibor, Sotik.
Anne Mwongeli, who is a form three student at St Valentine, Machakos, claimed victory in girls 1,500m besides the 4x400m relay, while 2015 Africa Youth triple jump champion won boys’ long jump final with a distance of 7.15m.
Betty Chepkemoi won the girls’ 800m before settling for silver in 3,000m behind Chepkirui. Chepkemoi be seeking the 2,000m steeplechase ticket at the World Under-18 contest.
Also winning gold for Kenya was Edwin Kosgei in boys’ 3,000m, having also represented Kenya at World Cross Country Championships in Kampala where he finished eighth in Under-20 event.