World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop celebrated the arrival a new tartan track at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in style with a brilliant stadium record as the fifth and final Athletics Kenya weekend meeting got underway at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium on Friday.
After running a one minute, 45 seconds 800 metres at the Doha Diamond League meeting last Friday, the two-time world champion and former Olympic title holder blasted a 3:36.09 in 1,500m, surpassing the previous best at this high altitude venue of 3:37.42 set by Nixon Chepseba in 2010. And this was only in the heats with probably another record expected in today’s final.
“This new track is very fast and we are going to see very good times posted here,” said experienced national coach David Leting.
“The 3.36 by Asbel at high altitude could easily be a 3:28 on lower ground.” Kiprop praised the new Mondo surface, but added the he struggled quite a bit at altitude.
“It was a bit hard here but I am glad for the win. The change in altitude slowed me down but the fast surface was an advantage to me. The intention to defend my title in Beijing World Championships received a boost as this performance brings good tidings ahead,” Kiprop said.
Among athletes who will be fighting it out with lanky Kiprop are Robert Kaptingei (3:49.3), Hosea Cheronyei (3:45.1) and Gerald Vincent (3:47.0).
As expected, a huge number of elite, world-beating athletes thronged “The Home of Champions” for the two-day meet that has also attracted international athletes from South Korea, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan, among other nations.
Newly-appointed Sports Kenya chairman Fred Muteti, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, his deputy Daniel Chemno and Athletics Kenya vice-president David Okeyo led the dignitaries in launching the upgraded government-funded stadium.
“We are working on other stadiums also as part of the Jubilee government pledges. We want our youths to have great facilities to display and develop their talent,” Muteti said.
New found talent Emmanuel Kipsang won a star-studded 10,000 metres heat that had 2011 Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai and former Starmillano Half Marathon Mathew Kisorio along with World and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich.