20 FEB 2008 General News Nairobi, Kenya

Bungei leads Kenyan squad for Valencia

Wilfred Bungei of Kenya on his way to victory in the men's 800m final (Getty Images)Wilfred Bungei of Kenya on his way to victory in the men's 800m final (Getty Images) © Copyright

2006 World indoor 800m gold medallist Wilfred Bungei will be leading a Kenyan squad of eight to the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, 7-9 March.

Bungei (1:47.15 this season), who captained the Kenyan team to the second overall position at the World championships in Osaka last year, has made an impressive recovery after an injury scare immediately after the Osaka championships and is poised to strike gold again. At the World Indoor Championships two years ago in Moscow, Bungei, perrenially among the fastest two lap specialists in the world, upset Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy on the Russian's home turf. In Valencia, Bungei will partner with Richard Kiplagat in the 800m.

Kipsiele Koech targets 3000m

After dominating the 3000m Steeplechase circles for the last season, due to the absence of the World record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen, Paul Kipsiele Koech must quickly switch gears to the 3000m. With an impressive sheet of top finishes since the 2004 Olympic Games, where he captured the bronze, Kipsiele Koech appears capable of improving on his indoor personal best of 7:33.46 from 2007, after chasing Kenenisa Bekele over two miles in Birmingham last weeked, clocking a national record 8:06.48.

He'll be joined by Edwin Cheruiyot Soi, whose current shape is unquestionable after winning the Campaccio EAA Cross Country in Italy a few weeks ago.

Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, in recent years among the quickest metric milers in the world and this season's world leader at 3:34.80, leads the squad in the 1500m, joined by Suleiman Simotwo (indoor PB 3:35.24, 2006).

Kibet, Nyaruai to take on the Ethiopians

After finishing fourth in the Osaka 5000m last August, Sylvia Kibet will have another platform to settle old scores with the 2007 World Athlete of the year, Ethiopia's Meseret Defar, this time over 3000m. The two-time defending indoor champion will have to contend with a double assault from Kibet World Cross Country silver medalist veronica Nyaruai Wanjiru.

Saddique Shaban (Kenya Television Network- KTN) for the IAAF

Kenyan team to the world indoor championships:

Wilfred Bungei - 800m
Richard Kiplagat - 800m
Daniel Kipchirchir Komen - 1500m
Suleiman Simotwo - 1500m
Paul Kipsiele Koech - 3000m
Edwin Cheruiyot Soi - 3000m
Sylvia Jebiwot Kibet - 3000m
Veronica Wanjiru Nyaruai - 3000m