Olympic, African and Commonwealth 1500m champion Nancy Jebet Langat was the star of the three-day Kenya Defence Forces Championships which wrapped up in Nairobi on Saturday (10 June).
Langat, who has endured a colourless start to her Samsung Diamond League campaign with fifth paces in Rome and Eugene, did just enough to edge out the fields in the women’s 800m and her speciality 1500m as she copy-pasted her performance from the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Other favoured names in the defence forces did not disappoint either as Lineth Chepkurui capped her fourth straight Forces title in the women’s 5000m, Commonwealth 400m titleholder, Mark Mutai held on to the men’s lap title, and Africa 800m bronze winner, Jackson Kivuva prevailed in the men’s 800m.
Gideon Gathimba, the 2008 Africa 1500m bronze winner, restored his position as the cream of Forces’ men 1500m after surrendering the crown last year.
Africa 5000m bronze winner, Mark Kiptoo, was the only seeded runner to fall from the procession when the impressive Mike Tiony edged him off his men 5000m pedestal.
This was the latest stop in the country’s road to the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea (August 27 – September 4) as the Defence Forces became the second institutional team to hold their selection event after Kenya Police who held theirs a week earlier.
With her defence of the women’s 1500m Diamond Race title in trouble Langat got the boost she needed while fulfilling her headline act at the Forces championships.
The African champion who added the 800 and 1500m Commonwealth titles in her trail-brazing 2010 came to the meet carrying a knee injury she received treatment on in Europe before returning to the country on Tuesday.
“I hope it will have recovered by the time the World Championships are here but this was a good work-out,” the Beijing champion stated.
Just like in Delhi, Langat waited until the last bend to embark on the sustained acceleration that edged out charging Helen Obiri (4:36.1) who sensed a major scalp with the winner returning 4:36.0. Alice Waithera was third in 4:39.0.
The finishing order was replicated in the two-lap race where Lagat returned 2:02.73 against the challenger’s 2:02.96 as Jane Jelagat (2:03.42) followed to share the podium.
Having run her 5000m career best at the Eugene Prefontaine Classic a week earlier (15:15.5/ June 3) Chepkurui, the eighth finisher in the women’s race at the Punta Umbria World XC Champs, won a duel with Boston Marathon bronze winner, Sharop Cherop in an engaging final lap to deliver her fourth successive Forces 5000m crown in 16:22.0 in Day 1 of the event on Thursday.
“That was not easy but I’m delighted,” Chepkurui the road race specialist who has also achieved her life-time best in 10,000m (31:24.20/ May 1) in California said. “I’ll see which race to go for at the Daegu Trials,”she added.
Cherop, who was included in Kenya’s women’s marathon team for the Daegu Worlds came home in 16:22.4 as Africa Cross bronze winner, Doris Changeiywo finished a distant third in 16:26.7.
Former World junior champion and Africa bronze winner, Jackson Kivuva forced David Matum (1:48.81) and Isaac Rogony (1:49.15) to accept the lesser podium positions in 1:48.60.
Having missed most of last season through injury, European circuit regular and Addis Ababa 2008 bronze medallist, Gideon Gathimba reclaimed his Forces men 1500m crown with a 3:42.41 run. Again, Matum played bridesmaid this time in 3:42.47 as Nicholas Meli (3:42.95) came third.
Commonwealth titleholder and Berlin Worlds finalist, Mark Mutai was the clear winner in the lap-race, stopping the timer in a 45.95 soil record as Jonathan Kibet (46.62) held-off former Forces and national champion, Vincent Mumo (46.74) for silver.
Mutai also made the podium in the shorter 200m where he trailed Tony Chirchir (21.3) and Mumo (21.5) across the line in 21.6.
“My preparations for Daegu are going on well and my aim is to better than Berlin where I did not progress past the first round,” Mutai who was the surprise winner in Delhi expressed.
In the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, Commonwealth silver winner, Mercy Njoroge broke from the competition in lap-three and raced against the clock for a 10:08.5 victory where Beatrice Chepng’eno (10:23.5) and Agnes Chesang (10:26.2) earned the right to share the rostrum.
Africa record holder, Grace Wanjiru (1:36:42) held on to her 20km Race Walking crown well clear of perennial bridesmaid, Emily Ngii (1:40:16) with Rebecca Jeptum (1:47:24) a distant third.
Africa championships bronze winner Mark Kiptoo went down in his defence of his men 5000m title but not without a tooth and nail fight for the line with rising Forces exponent, Mike Tiony.
At the bell, there was nothing more than a shoulder separating the pair and they chased each other down the back-straight and into the homestretch where they traded the lead before Tiony took it in 13:35.51 with the killer burst 50m from the line.
Kiptoo came home in 13:35.90 for second with Vincent Kiprop (13:37.19) further back in third.
Tiony had earlier won the men’s 25-lap race in 28:51.1 thereby sealing his maiden Forces distance double. Kiplimo Kimutai (28:46.2) and William Chebon (28:47.8) completed the top three.
Chirchir and Nyansunguta command sprints
Tony Chirchir deposed reigning champion, Kipkemoi Soi from the summit of Forces’ sprints by winning the 100m in 10.68 before sealing the double with 21.3 in the longer dash where the titleholder came seventh in 23.2.
In the corresponding women’s races, Deborah Nyansunguta crafted the sprint dual victories in 12.27 (100m) and 15.6.
In the men’s high hurdles, Amon Chesongol held off former winner, Julius Bungei to retain his Forces title in 14.1 against the challenger’s 14.4.
Kenya Prisons will be the next institution to hold their championships this weekend.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for IAAF
1. Tony Chirchir 10.68
2. Jason Jagongo 10.84
3. Stephen Okach 10.89
1. Tony Chirchir 21.3
2. Vincent Mumo 21.5
3. Mark Mutai 21.6
1. Mark Mutai 45.95
2. Jonathan Kibet 46.62
3. Vincent Mumo 46.74
1. Jackson Kivuva 1:48.60
2. Geoffrey Matum 1:48.81
3. Isaac Rogony 1:49.15
1. Gideon Gathimba 3:42.41
2. Geoffrey Matum 3:42.47
3. Nichola Meli 3:42.95
1. Mike Tiony 13:35.51
2. Mark Kiptoo 13:35.90
3. Vincent Kiprop 13:37.19
1. Mike Kioni 28:45.1
2. Kiplimo Kimutai 28:46.2
3. William Chebon 28:47.8
1. Amon Chesongol 14.1
2. Julius Bungei 14.4
3. Wilson Wahome 16.6
1. Boniface Mucheru 50.35
2. Julius Oleityogor 50.75
3. Amon Chesongol 50.76
1. Deborah Nyansuguta 12.27
2. Roseline Indimuli 12.29
3. Mary Tanui 12.58
1. Deborah Nyansuguta 24.6
2. Catherine Nandi 25.1
3. Emily Osiba 25.6
1. Catherine Nandi 54.58
2. Daisy Komen 55.20
3. Gladys Thingo 56.20
1. Nancy Jebet Langat 2:02.73
2. Helen Obiri 202.96
3. Jane Jelagat 2:03.42
1. Nancy Jebet Lagat 4:36.0
2. Helen Obiri 4:36.1
3. Alice Waithera 4:39.0
1. Lineth Chepkurui 16:22.0
2. Sharon Cherop 16:22.4
3. Doris Changeiywo 16:26.7
1. Mercy Njoroge 10:08.5
2. Beatrice Ngeno 10:23.5
3. Agnes Chesang 10:26.2
1. Georgina Mbinya 15.6
2. Tabitha Mwihaki 15.9
3. Merab Awori 16.9
1. Tabitha Mwihaki 60.6
2. Rebecca Jepkemboi 60.2
3. Priscilla Nasimiyu 64.3
(All results hand-timed)