World bronze medallists Hellen Obiri and Isaiah Kiplangat, and World Indoor 3,000m champion Caleb Mwangangi eased through to the finals of their respective events as the National Championships, which began Thursday at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The championships doubles as trials for the Commonwealth Games due July 23 to August 3 in Glasgow, Scotland and Africa Championships planned for August 10 to 14 in Marrakesh, Morocco.
The on form Obiri of Kenya Defence Forces, who won bronze in 1,500m at the 2013 World Championships, won her specialty in 4:13.21 minutes to show her intent in tomorrow’s final.
“My focus is on Saturday’s final since it’s anybody’s race even though I am being touted as the favourite,” said Obiri, who is fresh from beating world champion Abeba Aregawi at Prefontaine Classic last weekend in a world lead and meet record time of 3:57.05.
“I thank God I’m in great shape and I pray I stay injury-free through to the Commonwealth and Africa events.”
The 24-year-old Obiri anchored 4x1,500m team to a world record-breaking time of 16:33.58 at the World Relays on May 24 in Bahamas just before shattering the 3,000m African record with a time of 8:20.68 at Doha Diamond league in March.
Obiri, the World Indoor 3,000m silver medallist, qualified alongside second-placed Sela Jepleting (KDF) 4:13.6, Caroline Jepkemoi (South Rift).
The winner of the second 1,5000m semi-final was 2008 Youth Commonwealth Games champion Stacy Ndiwa of Police in 4:14.6.
She was followed by Perine Nenkampi (KDF) 4:15.7 and Beatrice Jepkoech (Prisons) 4:16.7.
After taking comfortable leads, Kiplangat, the world 5,000m bronze medallist and Mwangangi eased off with less than 20m to go to finish second in their respective 5,000m semi-finals.
Kiplangat of Police clocked 13:45.8 to finish behind Wilfred Kimitei (13:45.4) as Leonard Oloitiptip (KDF) settled for third in 13:46.2.
“I am focused on Saturday’s final since I know the battle will be tough,” said Kiplangat.
15 ATHLETES QUALIFIED
Mwangangi (Police) timed 13:42.4 to finish second behind Douglas Kipserem (KDF) 13:42.1 as 15 athletes qualified for the final that will also feature 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Edwin Soi.
“I am not worried about the final since I am sure I will make the team by virtue of my good shape,” said Mwangangi.
“But I can’t take the Glasgow competition for granted since the Olympic and world champion Mo Farah will be at home.”
The 2008 Africa 1,500m champion Harun Keitany (Eastern), who has been bogged down with injuries, made a swift return to the track, winning his 1,500m semi-final heat in 3:40.6. He beat Nixon Chepseba to second place in 3:40.8. Both qualified for the final.
James Magut (KDF) 3:41.2 and Ronald Kipkemboi (North Rift) 4:41.4 won the other two 1,500m semi-finals. They will be joined by among others world champion Asbel Kiprop in tomorrow’s finals.
Kenya champion Maureen Jelagat won her 400m in 53.3 and declared that she will smash the national record of 51.56 in the semi-finals today. Jelagat set a personal best of 51.63 on July 13 in Nairobi during the trials for the Moscow Worlds.