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Road to Doha begins at National Championships

Tuesday August 20 2019

Hellen Obiri crosses the finish line to win the senior women's 10km race in the Lotto/Athletics Kenya National Cross Country Championships at Eldoret Sports Club on February 23, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Hellen Obiri crosses the finish line to win the senior women's 10km race in the Lotto/Athletics Kenya National Cross Country Championships at Eldoret Sports Club on February 23, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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World Under-20 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet and Commonwealth 5,000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo are among the top contenders in women’s 5,000m semi-final heats slated for Tuesday as the National Athletics Championships start at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Also in contention in the women’s 5,000m semi-finals are the 2017 World Cross Country silver medallist Lilian Kasait (North Rift), World Half Marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya Defence Forces), former Africa 5,000m champion Sheila Chepkirui, Eva Cherono and Margaret Wangare.

Chebet (Nairobi), who is also the World Cross Country Under-20 champion, Chelimo, the Kenya Police 10,000m champion, and Jepkosgei will lock horns in the first semi-final that goes down at 10.20am.

Jepkosgei is fresh from winning KDF 5,000m title besides settling for second in 10,000m behind Hellen Obiri, the World 5,000m and World Cross Country champion. The heat also has the 2013 World 5,000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono, who is making a return from maternity leave.

Kasait will face Wangare, Cherono in the second semi-final. “I am ready and focused on scaling to the senior level in style,” said Chebet, the Africa Under-20 champion. “My main focus is to qualify for the World Championships in Doha.”

Kasait won the national trials for the ongoing African Games, beating Chebet to second place but both athletes are not travelling for the continental games whose athletics calendar will run from August 26 to 31 in Rabat.

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Chelimo is also bubbling with confidence, ready to take on the field as she targets a place at the World Championships planned for September 28 to October 6. Chelimo finished fifth during the 2017 World Championships in London.

“I want to better my performance in London but again, first things first, Kenyan trials are the toughest. This Nationals will give me a good build up,” said Chelimo. The National trials for the World Championships will be staged September 12 to 13 at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Obiri is the National 5,000m champion but has opted to run in women’s 10,000m scheduled for Wednesday.

Athletics Kenya will be using men and women’s 10,000m races to select the team for the Doha World Championships. Trials for the rest of the events will take place next month.

The men’s 5,000m will also go down on Tuesday with 2012 London Olympic 5,000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and 2017 World Cross Country Under-20 bronze medallist Richard Kimunyan among favourites to make the final.

With World and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich opting out, the stage is open for the Continental Cup 1,500m champion Winny Chebet to defend her national 1,500m title.

Chebet, the Africa 1,500m champion, is drawn against the likes of Edinah Jebitok and Mary Kuria in the first semi-final while the 2017 World Cross Country relay gold medallist Winfred Mbithe, Selah Jepleting and 2017 World Under-18 800m champion Jackline Wambui will battle in the second semi-final.

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