World champions Elijah Manangoi and Nicholas Bett set the blue tartan track at Kasarani alight with victories to reach their respective races finals at the Kenya Police Service Athletics Championships on Wednesday.
Manangoi, the 2017 World 1,500m champion, set his sight on his 800m title defence, clocking 1 minute and 47.42 seconds to win his semi-final race.
Manangoi, who is also the Commonwealth 1,500m champion, led through the distance to edge out Jason Murage in 1:49.6 as they all qualified for Thursday's final.
Seasoned Jeremiah Mutai and Collins Maloba won their 800m semi-finals in 1:51.0 and 1:50.0 respectively to join Manangoi and Murage in the final.
“I am using the two-lap for speed since I have many key races ahead," said Manangoi, who is preparing for the National Championships starting Thursday next week at the same venue.
Manangoi will compete in his specialty at Nationals where a team for Africa Championships due August 10-15 will be named. Manangoi also intends to compete in Rabat on July 13 and Monaco in July 20.
"Monaco will be a big race for me since I want to run my personal best and perhaps a world record time," said Manangoi, who has a personal best time of 3:28.80 while the world record is 3:26.00 currently held by Hicham El Guerrouj.
Kenya’s representative at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Emily Cherotich, who is also the defending 800m champion, and Eglay Nalianya prevailed in their 800m semi-finals in 2:04.4 and 2:09.6 respectively to set up today’s final battle.
Bett, the 2015 World 400m hurdles champion, who is also fine-tuning for the Nationals, won the 400m hurdles and 400m semi-final races respectively.
Bett timed 52.00 seconds, beating defending champion Kiprono Kosgei in 52.4 as they all sailed through to the finals due today. Meli Kipchirchir clocked 56.2 to 56.2, beating Gilbert Koech in 56.3 in the second 400m hurdles semi-finals.
“I didn’t have a good start to my Diamond Leagued season owing to some personal issues but I am back,” said Bett, the 2014 Africa 400m hurdles, went on to win the 400m semi-final in 47.2, seeing off national 400m champion Collins Omae, a guest entry in 47.4.
Job Kinyor and Newton Rono clocked 47.9 and 48.8 to win the other 400m semi-finals.
Commonwealth 1,500m silver medallist Beatrice Chepkoech clocked 10:00.6 to retain her 3,000m steeplechase title. Veronica Jepkosgei returned home in 10:37.3 to settled second with the 2013 World 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Lydia Chepkirui coming third in 10:38.1.
National champion 100m and 400m champion Maximilla Imali, Millicent Ndoro and Joan Cherono won their respective 100m heats in 11.1, 11.8 and 11.8 to earn final berths.
Defending champion Collins Cheboi, clocked 3:47.4 to win his 1,500m semi-final race and set up the clash with experienced Nixon Cheseba and Robert Biwott, who won the other semi in 3:51.3 and 3:49.6 respectively.