Nairobi, KenyaCaroline Chepkoech is in line of retracing the steps of her elder sister Mercy Cherono’s golden run at the 2007 World Youth Championships after she made Kenya’s team for next month’s edition of the IAAF World Youth Championships, Lille, France, 6-10 July.
Chepkoech was among the 22 athletes selected following the conclusion of the two-day Kenya Colleges and Schools Triangular Championships that concluded at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday (8).
Also making the cut was World Cross Country junior 6Km champion Faith Chepng’etich who, owing to her international pedigree, naturally assumed the role of team leader.
However, the headline performance in the event that also saw a further ten runners selected for September’s Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man was 17-year-old Timothy Kitum who sparkled with a 1:45.8 victory in the 800m.
Chepkoech in Cherono’s path
Mercy Cherono made a grand entrance on the global scene when she raced 8:53.94 for victory in the girls’ 3000m at the Ostrava World Youth four years ago on her debut.
Her younger sister, Caroline Chepkoech, having failed to hold to her sister’s World Cross junior crown when she failed to make the Punta Umbria team, is out to ensure she does not miss the steps in Lille.
However, she had to play bridesmaid to the charging individual athlete, Zipporah Wanjiku who completed the 3000m final in 9:03.0 but in coming home in 9:04.0, her place in the World Youth squad was secure since selectors were picking 1-2 across the line.
“I was nervous since I did not want a repeat of what happened in the Trials for Punta Umbria but after making the team, my objective is to go there and do what my sister did,” the Arsha Kibori Primary School pupil said.
Having been handed the ticket to participate in the revived Africa Cross Championships in South Africa, Chepkoech opened the floodgates for her country when she won the junior 6Km title.
Minutes later, her sibling who ended her glittering age group career with two World Junior titles, a World Cross title, a World Cross silver, two Africa Junior titles in addition to her World Youth gold bagged, the senior women continental crown.
In Lille, Chepkoech is out to sustain what is becoming a family medalling tradition.
Chepng’etich plays second fiddle
After bagging her first world title at the second time of asking, Punta Umbria junior women champion, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon has another opportunity to add to her collection in Lille.
But she was made to sweat for a place in the Lille World Youth party by her namesake Sheila Chepng’etich in the girls’ 1500m showdown in what proved the climax of Day 1 action.
At the bell, the Chepng’etich pair was vest to vest but Sheila stunned her more renowned rival with a sustained burst of acceleration that saw her unchallenged to the line over the last 60m for victory in 4:14.8.
A glance to the back was enough for the World Cross titleholder to realise she had secured the other automatic qualification and she eased off to runners-up spot in 4:19.2.
“It was a tough race but I fulfilled objective number one, to qualify for France. Now I can focus on training for the event,” the Punta Umbria gold winner noted.
With the final day needing a lift after a number of numbing finals, Kitum stepped up to awaken the spectators present when he broke clear from the field with 500m to complete the two laps in 1:45.8.
To put his showing in perspective, world record holder, David Rudisha, ran 1:51.2 at the same track in the Trials for the 2005 World Youth where the winner on that occasion, Gilbert Kipkurui timed 1:49.1!
“He (Rudisha) is my idol and I want to be like him,” Kitum, who came in as an individual offered.
Kitum will also carry his nations’ flag in the Isle of Man Commonwealth Youth Games.
Stars in attendance
The young talent on show were urged on by the sages who have cemented Kenya’s place at the pinnacle of distance running.
Former World Marathon record holder Paul Tergat made a rare public appearance following a road accident late last year and he formally announced he was retired.
“I’m here to inspire the upcoming generation now that my time is up. The talent here has given me confidence that we have a bright future,” Tergat said.
London Marathon runner-up Martin Lel, four-time Boston Marathon winner, and Robert Cheruiyot/Omar Ahmed were among those who came to cheer on the youngsters.
“This reminds us where it all started,” Cheruiyot, who is training for a fall Marathon, said.
The 22 selected athletes will report to training camp in Nairobi on 17 June under head coach Robert Ngisirei, a veteran with age runners assisted by Kariuki Gekonyo and Paul Okwaro.
“We expect nothing less than a successful title defence in Lille. We have selected a stronger team than that which won in Bressanone two years ago so there are no excuses,” Athletics Kenya chief, Isaiah Kiplagat outlined.
Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF
World Youth Championships Squad:
Mike Mokamba (200m), Alphas Kishoiyan, David Chemjor (400m), Timothy Kitum, Leonard Kosencha (800m), Edwin Katoi, Kiprotich Mutai (1500m), Conseslus Kipruto, Gilbert Kirui (2000m steeplechase), William Malel, Patrick Mutunga (3000m) and Ken Kirui (400m Hurdles)
Eunice Mueni (200m), Nevian Michira (400m), Agatha Jeruto, Lydia Jepchirchir (800m), Sheila Chepngetich, Faith Chepngetich (1500m), Norah Jeruto, Lilian Chepngeno (2000m steeplechase), Zipporah Wanjiku, Caroline Chepkoech (3000m).
Commonwealth Youth Games Squad:
Alphas Kishoyan (400m), Timothy Kitum, Leonard Konsecha (800m), Edwin Katoi, Kiprotich Mutai (1500m), William Malel, Patrick Mutunga (3000m)
Norah Jeruto, Lilian Chepngeno (2000m), Gladys Musyoki (long jump/Triple Jump)
Selected Results (all performances hand-timed):
1. Mike Mokamba, Ind 21.44
2. Benjamin A. Nyasimi, Col 22.13
3. Bonface Mweresa, Sec 22.18
1. Kishoyian Leken, Ind 46.34
2. David Chemjor, Sec 47.15
3. Bonface Mweresa, Sec 47.58
1. Timothy Kitum, Ind 1:45.8
2. Abraham Kipchirchir, Sec 1:46.4
3. Leonard Kosencha, Sec 1:46.9
1. Edwin Katoi, Sec 3:39.5
2. Kiprotich Mutai, Sec 3:40.1
3. Geoffrey Barusei, Ind 3:40.3
1. Malel William, Pri 7:51.2
2. Patrick Mutunga , Ind 7:51.5
3. F. Kipkemboi Langat, Ind 7:51.8
1. Ken Kirui, Sec 50.9
2. Christopher Ngetich, Sec 51.3
3. Francis Wanguo, Ind 51.9
1. Conseslus Kiprutto, Sec 5:29.3
2. Gilbert Kiplagat 5:30.0
3. Peter Mutheka, Ind 5:36.0
1. Justus Ngeno, Sec 8:52.0
2. Eric Bett Ind 9:02.0
3. Lawrence Kemboi 9:02.1
1. Nevian Michira, Ind 56.3
2. Vivian Chelangat, Sec 56.8
3. Jaccline Komoni, Pri 57.1
1. Eunice Mueni, Sec Nrb 24.96
2. Maureen Cherono, Sec 25.42
3. Nevian Michira, Ind 25.65
1. Agatha Jeruto, Sec 2:07.8
2. Sheila Chepng'etich, Ind 2:07.2
3. Linda Jepchirchir, Pri 2:11.2
1. Sheila Chemengich, Pri 4:14.8
2. Faith Chepng'etich, Pri 4:19.2
3. Margaret Chelimo, Sec 4:24.0
1. Zipporah Wanjiku, Ind 9:03.0
2. Caroline Chepkoech, Pri 9:04.0
3. Brillian Chebet, Pri 9:12.0
1. Norah Jeruto, Pri 6:25.8
2. Lilian Chemweno, Sec 6:35.7
3. Jepkemei Tanui, Ind 6:41.2