Former Africa 1,500m champion Alex Kipchirchir and Beijing Olympics sensation Nicholas Kemboi made a successful comeback on Friday with 6th New KCC/Athletics Kenya track and field meeting’s 800m final slots in Eldoret.
Kemboi, who lost to Africa 1,500m champion Haroun Keitany at the World Championships national trials at Nyayo National Stadium last year, won in one minute 51.6 seconds.
Little-known Hillary Kiptanui (1:53.4) and Dennis Sanga (1:54.1) followed. Kipchirchir (1:54.4) was fourth.
Kemboi said: “I am in top form and ready to tackle my opponents at the 1,500m national trials.”
Kipchirchir, 26, who has been out of action for 22 months over a career-threatening hamstring injury, was content with his performance.
The 2006 Africa championships winner said: “It is a good start for me. I am still confident of reclaiming the title.”
Fireworks are however expected in the 1,500m final today, pitting Africa’s four-lap supremo Keitany and world 3,000m steeplechase record holder Saif Shaheen (formerly Stephen Cherono) of Qatar.
Keitany (3:44.2), who went out action at the Berlin World Championships 1,500m final with a calf-strain injury, beat Shaheen (3:44.6) and upstart Seyyid Kiptum (3:44.7).
William Biwott (3:44.2) humbled Julius Kipchirchir (3:48.5) and World Cross Country Junior silver medallist Lucas Rotich in 1,500m.
Africa Junior silver medallist and fresh graduate Nickson Chepseba (3:52.7) won ahead of Alex Cherop (3:55.1) and Africa 5,000m silver medallist Isaac Kiprono Songok.
Will battle pupil
World Cross Country runner Hosea Macharinyang will battle Yusuf Kibet, Uganda’s Moses Kibet and pupil Abraham Bertum in Saturday’s 5,000m final after he won in 13:53.7 ahead of Peter Longole (14:52.5) and Moses Kigen (14:52.5). Schoolboy Bertum (14:02.9) led veteran Thomas Longosiwa (14:17.7).
Newcomer Wesley Kosgei (9:14.9) beat Christopher Boit (9:16.2) and Africa Junior steeplechase silver medallist Stephen Kiprotich (9:17.9) in the 3,000m steeplechase.
Olympic 1,500m champion Irene Jelagat Birgen (4:18.6), who was tripped in Berlin, beat the likes of World Cross junior stars Esther Chemutai (4:21.6) and Alice Aprot (4:25.4).
Eunice Jebichii (16:31.8) beat Janet Khisa (16:35.7) and Sharon Kipsang (16:38.6) in the 5,000m finals.