Kenya’s heavyweights push for Beijing berths

By: AYUMBA AYODI

The world’s focus will be on Kenya on Saturday when the country selects its team for the World Championships due August 22 to 30 in Beijing, China.

Men’s 10,000m battle will be intriguing with World bronze medallist, Paul Tanui, World Cross Country champion, Geoffrey Kamworor and World Cross country silver medallist, Bedan Karoki, in contention.

Kamworor has been phenomenal this year, winning the World Cross title this year before claiming the national 10,000m title. That followed his exploits at the World Half Marathon last year in Denmark and the 2011 World Cross junior.

Kamworor and Tanui could have lost to double World champion Mo Farah at the Prefontiane Classic on May 29 but they still believe Kenya can reclaim the title they last won in Edmonton 2001 through Charles Kamathi. Farah won at Prefontaine in 26:50.97 followed by Tanui 26:51.86 and Kamworor 26:52.65.

Tanui has also warmed up well for the race. After finishing second in Eugene, he would secure another second place in 5,000m in Rome on June 4.

Karoki, who made his return from injury, is just another exciting athlete to watch. He would like to secure a place in the team and atone for his sixth place finish at the 2013 Worlds, having also emerged as the best Kenyan finisher at the 2012 London Olympics in fifth position.

“My only mission tomorrow is to win and nothing short,” said Kamworor, who didn’t mince his words about his expectations at the World. “I believe we will stop Farah.”

Also to watch out for in the race are the 2013 World Cross junior silver medallist, Leonard Barsaton, the 2012 Africa 10,000m champion Kenneth Kipkemoi, who finished seventh at the 2013 Worlds and William Sitonik.

The man to watch in the 1,500m is definitely the world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, who is fresh from becoming the third fastest man in history over the metric mile race after winning in Monaco in 3:26.69, just missing Hicham el Guerouj’s world record by 0.69 seconds.

Kiprop won the world titles in Daegu 2011 and Moscow 2013. Challenging Kiprop will be the 2011 World silver medallist, Silas Kiplagat, who won in Shanghai and Paris where he returned an impressive 3:30.12.

SECOND FASTEST

Also in the race are world junior record holder Ronald Kwemoi, national champion Elijah Manangoi, who is the second fastest in the field this year in 3:29.67 and Commonwealth 1,500m champion James Magut.

Commonwealth 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich is favourite in the women’s 1,500m race where an interesting battle is in the offing. Chepng’etich has the best time this season in the race of 4:00.94 from a second place finish in Oslo.

World 5,000m bronze medallist Mercy Cherono has lined up for the race before doubling in 5,000m. Cherono recorded personal best of 4:01.26 when she finished second at Prefontaine.