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Athletes equal to the task ahead in African Games

Thursday June 27 2019

Benjamin Kigen (left) and Joash Kiplimo clear a barrier in the men's 3000m final during the Athletics Kenya National trials for the African Games at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on June 22, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Benjamin Kigen (left) and Joash Kiplimo clear a barrier in the men's 3000m final during the Athletics Kenya National trials for the African Games at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on June 22, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

BARNABAS KORIR
By BARNABAS KORIR
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When I look at the line up for the forthcoming African Games, it gives me the conviction that we still have a bright future in athletics as a country.

The team named last weekend is a blend of youth and experience and leaves no doubt about the country’s future in athletics.

It is indeed a strong team and I can already predict good performance for Kenya. The reason I am convinced it is the right team is the fact that they competed against the best and emerged victorious.

In fact, some of the big names tried making the team but were locked out due to poor form. A case in point is the women’s 10,000 metres race where Alice Aprot and Sandrafelis Chebet failed to make the team as upcoming Emily Ngii (33.43 minutes) and Grace Wanjiru (33:49) called the shots.

The men’s 5,000m was equally competitive, with Robert Kiprop (13:37.1) and Richard Kimunyan (13:37.6) relegating Edward zakayo to third place. This means there is a lot of work to be done by Zakayo if he is to maintain the standards he set two years ago.

It is also a warning to the older generation that the youths are knocking on the big door and that they are ready for the big stage.

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I am happy for the former Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Edwin Soi who won the 10,000m race after almost a decade on the sidelines due to nagging injuries. Soi won the the race in 27:55.30, relegating Olympics 10,000m champion Paul Tanui (27:58.06) and Charles Mneria (28:18.06) to second and third places respectively.

He is currently enjoying top form and can win gold in Morocco.

Also worth noting was the 1,500m race in which senior athlete Elijah Manangoi paved way for his younger brother George, and the latter never disappointed. George’s performance left no doubt that even in the absence of his elder brother, the event is in safe hands both at the African Games and in the future generally.

World women’s 3000 m record holder, Beatrice Chepkoech, is also not taking chances. Much as she is a sure bet for the world title in Doha later in the year, African Games mean a lot for her and she is determined to bag gold if her performance at the trials is anything to go by.

The same applies to Olympics javelin silver medallist Julius Yego who wants to use the Africa bonanza to gauge himself for the global show in Doha. In sprints, we are well covered and we will equally have formidable teams in relays (both men and women).

The combination of Emmanuel Korir, Joseph Poghisio and Raymond Kibet in men’s 400m gives Kenyans an edge in relays against their African rivals. The trio are likey to work with Aaron Koech who will fly the country’s flag in 400m hurdles.

Men’s 3,000m steeplechase has new faces in the likes of Benjamin Kigen and Joash Kiplimo.

The likes of Conseslus Kipruto can wait for the World championships if they can match the youths. Despite a tight schedule, we are spoilt for choice and the next few months will be interesting.

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