Monday, June 28, 2010

Sights now trained on Diamond League

With selection of the national team for African championships settled, Kenya’s elite athletes fanned out to different parts of the world to seek glory at the IAAF Diamond League races abroad and to prepare for next month’s continental track meeting.

All the top Kenyan athletes confirmed they will be either heading to Eugene (USA) on Saturday, in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 8, or in London for the Gateshead two days later for IAAF Diamond League.

Jepkosgei was able to register her victory in style in the trials with over five metres to clock 1:58.95 with Chebet gaining the second automatic slot in 2:00.88 while Jepkosgei’s training mate Eunice Sum was third in 2:02.55. Only three of Kenya’s gold medal winners from Addis Ababa 2008 will be stepping up to defend their titles when the country hosts the Senior Africa Athletics Championship.

Richard Mateelong (3,000m SC), Grace Wanjiru (race walking) and David Rudisha (800m) are the only champions in the Kenya team after the national trials at Nyayo Stadium over the weekend. They are also looking to use the Africa championship to prepare for the October Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

Both Africa 1,500m champion Haron Keiyany and Pamela Jelimo, the Olympic 800m champion , were kept out by injuries. Jelimo pulled out just 300m into the 800m final on Friday with an ankle injury while Keitany is still nursing a hamstring strain he picked up in Doha in March during the World Indoor Championship.

World’s fastest time

Rudisha, who holds the world fastest time this season of 1:42.04 got in Oslo early this month is also keen to maintain his consistence over the 1:42 time and would have clocked the same time during the Kenyan trials had he got the opposition as he was timed at 1:44.23 to beat World and Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Kirwa Yego 1:45.50 and Jackson Kivuva of the Armed Forces was third in 1:45.75.

Rudisha said he controlled the race throughout and is now more experienced than last year when he could not sustain the pressure at the World Championship in Berlin. “The weather was also not good for me. But I have leant my lesson and it will be good to see the opposition in Nairobi. I think we are ready,” he said.

He singled out Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the world champion from South Africa and World Indoor Championship winner Abubakar Kaki as the men to watch during the championship. Vivian Cheruiyot, the world champion over the 5,000m distance, threw down the gauntlet to the Ethiopians.

“Catch me if you can,” she said after shaking off a thigh strain to win in her speciality. In what was her first race after her silver medal at the world indoor championship in Doha in March, Cheruiyot showed her class to stop the watch at 15:31.39. Armed Forces’ Iness Chenonge15:32.73 was second ahead of Esther Chemtai 15:38.53 while Margaret Wangare 15:45.87 and Gladys Chemweno 15:46.50 finished fourth and fifth respectively.