Nairobi, Kenya – Kenya’s team to the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin, Germany (15 – 23 Aug) is slowly taking shape after the weekend’s (June 25-27) New KCC/Athletics Kenya National Championships in Nairobi.
Kitwara leads Police team sweep of 10,000m
With the men’s and women’s 10,000 metres at the nationals counting as selection races for Berlin, the final day of action at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday (27) saw a blistering men’s race with the first four runners across the line all dipping under the Berlin ‘A’ qualification standard of 27:47.00.
But it was Sammy Kitwara, the country’s latest distance running sensation, who carried the day, winning in 27:44.46 and leading a clean sweep of the podium places by the star-studded Kenya Police team.
After marathon specialist Leonard Mucheru had set the pace, World junior 5000m silver medallist Mathew Kisorio took up the challenge before Kitwara prevailed in the latter stages of the race that saw back and forth lap times of between 68 and 72 seconds.
Japan-based Gideon Ngatuny, Kenya’s 2007 senior men’s cross country champion but a perennial underachiever in national colours, finished second to earn the other automatic qualification slot for Berlin after clocking 27:44.77.
Two other policemen, Bernard Kipyego (27:44.80) and Moses Masai (27:44.88), took third and fourth.
The two (Kipyego and Masai) will be considered for wild card selection to fill the third and remaining slot in Kenya’s team to Berlin, Kenya’s head coach, Julius Kirwa, said after the weekend’s meet.
Incidentally, Masai’s younger sister and 2009 World Cross senior women’s silver medallist, Linet Masai, won the women’s 10,000m race on Friday to earn a ticket to the Berlin championships – see previous story in ‘Related Content’ under photo to the right of this text.
Kitwara has been a man on the rise, dominating the 2007/08 national cross country series but failing to make the Kenya team to the world championships due to inexperience.
He also won the 2009 Kenya Police Championships in the 5000m.
“It has been a struggle for me to get a place in the Kenyan athletics team,” the Marakwet-born runner said. “For two years, my efforts were not good enough but I thank my coach for keeping faith in me and from urging me on. But winning the nationals is not enough as I now have to prove myself in Berlin.”
Ngatuny said Kenyans have their work cut out in their bid to unseat their Ethiopian runners in Berlin.
“We must focus now on Berlin but we need to work harder and improve our speed if we are to beat the Ethiopians,” the Japan-based runner said.
Rudisha with ease in absence of Yego
Meanwhile, Alfred Kirwa Yego, the World 800m champion, was a no-show in the finals, paving way for 20-year-old African champion David Rudisha to coast to victory in the two-lap race in 1:47.1.
“I’m happy with my performance and will now focus on doing well at the national trials,” Rudisha said.
More drama surrounds for Kemboi
Allowed to run in the 3000m Steeplechase after winning an appeal against his disqualification in the heats, 2004 Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi was the subject of drama yet again when he withdrew from Saturday’s finally after taking a fall in the water jump as the pack came to take the bell.
Visibly infuriated by the jinx, the Kenya Police star threw his singlet onto the tartan and stormed off as his team mate and Beijing Olympics bronze medallist, Richard Mateelong, won the race in 8:14.2, leading Elijah Chelimo (Prisons, 8:19.8) and Abel Mutai (Armed Forces, 8:23.4) to the podium places.
Cheruiyot performs a successful speed test
The women’s action saw the in-form Vivian Cheruiyot (4:07.66) lead fellow police woman Sylvia Kibet (4:08.57) to a 1-2 finish for their team with Innes Chenonge of the Armed Forces third in 4:08.61.
“I’m happy with my speed in the 1500m and I will now revert to my speciality, the 5,000m, and hope I will be able to push the Ethiopians all the way in Berlin,” Cheruiyot said.
And as Cheruiyot skipped her speciality, World Junior 3000m champion Mercy Cherono’s impressive progress continued as she won the 5000m in 15:46.74 running for the South Rift team.
Jelimo and Jepkosgei on relay duty
But the day’s show-stopper was the women’s 4x400m relay in which the Kenya Police team fielded Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo and silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei, who is the World champion over the same distance.
The police women prevailed over an equally star-studded Prisons and Armed Forces teams, the latter featuring Olympic 1500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat.
After taking the baton from Jepkosgei, Jelimo – the 2008 AF Golden League Jackpot winner – anchored the police team to victory in 3:43.19 with Prisons (3:42.17) second and Armed Forces (3:43.19) third.
The focus now shifts to the national trials for Berlin which will run in Nairobi on July 25.
Elias Makori for IAAF
Selected results from the third and final day of the New KCC/Athletics Kenya National Championships:
100m: 1. Maryline Chelangat (Police) 12.54, 2. Pamela Masambule (Police) 12.56, 3. Gladys Thiongo (Armed Forces) 12.58.
100m hurdles: 1. Florence Wasike (Prisons) 14.5, 2. Ruth Kemunto (Kenya Police) 15.4, 3. Maureen Jelagat (Prisons) 15.6.
200m: 1. Joyce Zakari (Police) 23.84, 2. Maryline Chelangat (Police) 25.00, 3. Zipporah Ratemo (Prisons) 25.39.
400m hurdles: 1. Florence Wasike (Prisons) 58.42, 2. Callen Nyakawa (Police) 58.75, 3. Ruth Kemunto (Police) 61.22.
3,000m steeplechase: 1. Gladys Kemboi (North Rift) 9:40.47, 2. Milka Chemos (Police) 9:41.00, 3. Lydia Rotich (Police) 9:41.13.
1500m: Vivian Cheruiyot (Police) 4:07.66, 2. Sylvia Kibet (Police) 4:08.57, 3. Innes Chenonge (Armed Forces) 4:08.61.
400m: 1. Joyce Zakari (Police) 53.06, 2. Betty Chelangat (South Rift) 54.96, 3. Zipporah Ratemo (Prisons) 55.46.
800m: 1. Winny Chebet (South Rift) 2:05.9, 2. Jane Jelagat (Armed Forces) 2:06.3, 3. Nelly Jeptanui (Armed Forces) 2:08.6.
5000m: 1. Mercy Cherono (South Rift) 15:46.74, 2. Pascalia Chepkorir (Police) 15:57.05, 3. Naomi Chepgnetich (Coast) 15:58.84.
100m: Kipkemoi Soi (Armed Forces) 10.63, 2. Tonny Chirchir (Armed Forces) 10.78, Stephen Barasa (Prisons) 10.91.
110m hurdles: 1. Amon Chepsongol (Armed Forces) 14.1, 2. Kiprono Koskei (Police) 14.4, Emmanuel Kimeu (Police) 14.7.
200m: 1. Anderson Mureta (Police) 21.49, 2. Kipkemoi Soi (Armed Forces) 21.63, 3. Stephen Barasa (Prisons) 21.91.
400m Hurdles: 1. Kiprono Koskei (Police) 51.32, 2. Amon Chepsongol (Armed Forces) 51.74, 3. Emmanuel Kimeu (Police) 51.77.
400m: 1. Thomas Musembi (Kenya Prisons) 45.70, 2. Mark Mutai (Armed Forces) 45.98, 3. Anderson Mureta (Police) 46.12.
800m: 1. David Rudisha (Police) 1:47.1, 2. Jackson Kivuva (Armed Forces) 1:47.9, 3. Hoseah Kandie (Armed Forces) 1:48.5.
1500m: 1. Gideon Gathimba (Armed Forces) 3:39.7, 2. James Kangongo (Police) 3:41.2, 3. Churchill Kipsang (Nyanza South) 3:41.7.
5000m: 1. Joseph Kitur (Police) 13:47.0, 2. Vincent Kiprop (Armed Forces) 13:48.2, 3. Alex Macharia (Police) 13:48.7, 4. Thomas Longosiwa (Prisons) 13:50.2.
3000m Steeplechase: 1. Richard Matelong (Police) 8:14.2, 2. Elijah Chelimo (Prisons) 8:19.8, 3. Abel Mutai (Armed Forces) 8:23.4; Did not finish: Ezekiel Kemboi (Police).
10,000m: 1. Sammy Kitwara (Police) 27.44.46, 2. Gideon Ngatuny (Police) 27:44.77, 3. Bernard Kipyego (Police) 27:44.80, 4. Moses Masai (Police) 27:44.88, 5. Mathew Kisorio (Individual entry), 27:58.97, 6. Leonard Komon (Western Province) 28:02.24, 7. Barnabas Kosgei (Armed Forces) 28:10.56, 7. Martin Irungu Mathathi (individual) 28:19.13.