IN TAMPERE, FINALND
World Under-18 champion in 1,500m George Manangoi and Justus Soget on Tuesday stormed into the finals of the 1,500m in the ongoing World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
Manangoi, who is recovering from malaria, said that he is happy to have qualified for the final set for Thursday.
“It was a tight race but I was able to do well despite feeling unwell in the last few days. The weather here is good and I’m looking forward to win my second gold in a global event,” said Manangoi.
“Soget is a good athlete and I know with team work we are going to deliver the medals. We need prayers from Kenyans because the competition here is stiff,” said Manangoi, the younger brother of World 1,500m Champion Elijah.
Manangoi came in second in the first heat, clocking 3:51.40 behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen from Norway who timed 3:51.34 while Oussama Cherrad from Algeria was third in 3:52.33.
In the second heat, Soget ran a tactical race before leading in the final lap to time 3:44.70 ahead of Bihranu Sorsa from Ethiopia (3:44.92) while Cooper Teare from USA was in third place in 3:45.06.
According to Soget, the weather in Tampere is conducive and they will be planning with Manangoi how to tackle the final where they want to bag gold and silver.
“I enjoyed the race because I didn’t have any pressure to deliver thanks to the good training we did back in Nairobi. We want to go back home with medals and the podium finish for us is our target,” said the form four student at Kirobon High School in Nakuru County.
The Kenyans will be wary of Ingebrigsten and Sorsa in the final.
In the women's 3,000m steeplechase, favourite Celliphine Chespol easily sailed through to the final here on Tuesday.
Chespol ran a brilliant race from behind stepping on the gas pedal in the third lap to finish in 9:45.60, ahead of Montanna Mcavoy from Australia who clocked 9:59.67 while Japan's Manami Nishiyama was third in 10:02.89.
“I ran a good race but I know it will be a tough for us as Kenyans in the final. The athletes from Ethiopia, Uganda and Bahrain are good but we are going to do our best to deliver the medals," Chespol said.
The athlete was in a class of her own, leaving the rest of the competitors with a margin of almost 50 metres.
“My participation in various races with the senior athletes has given me a lot of experience making it easy for me here,” said the Ngong-based athlete.
In the third heat, Kenya's Mercy Chepkurui was in a tight battle with Peruth Chemutai of Uganda and Ethiopia's Etalemahu Sintayehu.
“It was a tight race but I’m happy I was able to come in second place. We have trained well and we will be running as one team so that we can deliver the medals,” Chepkurui said.
Chepkurui clocked 9:50.5 behind Chemutai, who timed 9:34.34, while Ethiopia’s Sintayehu was third in 9:52.92.
It was also a good day for Kenya's middle distance runners as Jackline Wambui and her compatriot Lydia Jeruto qualified for the 800m semi-finals in the World Under-20 Championships.
Wambui qualified after emerging second in the first heat when she clocked 2:05.27 behind Ayano Shiomi from Japan who timed 2:05.13, while Samantha Watson was third after timing 2:06.34.
“We trained well but we must also fight to the end. I want to get to the final and it’s my prayer we take home something good from the championships,” said Wambui.
Jeruto also finished second in the third heat, qualifying in 2:05.63 behind Japan’s Ayaka Kawata who clocked 2:05.8 while Maeliss Trapeu from France was third in 2:05.72.