Two Olympic gold medallists and one World champion lost their races while another Olympic title holder failed to make Kenya’s team to the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin, Germany (15 – 23 August) at the country’s bruising national trials on Saturday (25).
Women’s Olympic 800m and 1500m champions from Beijing, respectively Pamela Jelimo and Nancy Jebet Lagat, settled for second best after brilliant performances by World champion Janeth Jepkosgei and former World Junior champion Irene Jelagat respectively. There was a major selection upset for Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei in the men’s 800m, while Asbel Kiprop showed his dominance in the men’s 1500m.
Rudisha puts injury behind
In the men’s 800m race, World champion Alfred Kirwa Yego was beaten clearly by Africa champion David Rudisha, with Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei out injured but hoping to earn a wild card selection to the Kenyan team to Beijing.
However, the Kenyan selectors had other ideas, dropping Bungei and drafting Jackson Kivuva, third behind Rudisha and Yego, into the Berlin-bound squad.
“I was feeling good, there was a lot of pushing and so I had to run from the outside lane but I’m happy to make the team,” said Rudisha (1:47.00), who missed out on the Beijing Olympics through injury.
“Last year I battled with injury but it (injury) is completely gone now and I’m ready for the World Championships.”
Kirwa (1:47.48), who set the early pace and stayed ahead at the bell, was graceful in defeat, happy to make it to the team for a defence of his title and even happier that he has finally come to grips with his new front-running technique.
“I’ve been training on front-running and I’ve come to prefer this to fighting from the back,” the winner from Osaka said. “I’m happy that Rudisha is in good shape and I’m sure we will bring the medals home.”
Kivuva was third in 1:47.96 and joins the two in-form runners in the team to Berlin.
Kiprop - under no pressure
There were no upsets in the fiery men’s 1500m with Olympic silver medallist Asbel Kiprop, cruising past African champ Haron Keitany with 60 metres to go to cement his place in the team.
“I was confident and under no pressure but still I had to summon all my experience to come through,” said Kiprop, silver medallist in Beijing.
Jepkosgei holds off Jelimo
But the race the 12,000-strong crowd that included Kenya’s vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka was waiting to see was the women’s 800m which blasted off at 15:20 local time under perfect, clear weather conditions in the Kenyan capital.
It was the first time that Jepkosgei and Jelimo were coming up against each other on home soil since Jelimo struck the Olympic gold in Beijing, beating Jepkosgei to the gold, and later following up with the AF Golden League $1 Million Jackpot.
And the pair did not disappoint, running the two lap show from the gun to the tape. Jelimo paid dearly for making her move too early when she pulled away in the final 300m only for Jepkosgei to dig in with a couple of metres to the tape to claim a morale-boosting victory in 1:59.31, her first sub-two minute time this season.
Jelimo also dipped inside the two-minute mark, clocking 1:59.49, her season’s best and second sub-two minute race of the season.
World Youth champion Cherono Koech (2:01.92), and world Junior winner Winnie Chebet (2:05.12) followed the experienced pair with the Kenyan selectors electing to enter only two runners for Berlin in this race.
“I’m coming back. Jelimo had a good race and I beat her at the line. I’m happy to beat her…it’s the crowd that kept me going to the finish,” said Jepkosgei who raised her index finger to her lips as if to silence her critics after crossing the finish line. She then hugged Jelimo in a show of sportsmanship.
Jelimo was graceful in defeat: “I’m improving. I know I will be OK by Berlin. I had injury problems early in the season and I know I still have to work on my final 50 metres before Berlin.”
“I kicked at 300 metres to go but ran out of power in the final 50 metres and this is what I’ve got to work on. My vision is to be on the podium in Berlin.”
In the women’s 1500m, Irene Jelagat with a run of 4:12.05 was more of a match for Olympic champion Nancy Jebet Langat (4:13.00) with Margaret Wangare taking third 4:14.44. The first two make the trip to Berlin.
Kipruto leads expected results in Steeplechase
There were no upsets of the form book in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase with Olympic and World champion Brimin Kipruto (8:20.03) leading Beijing bronze medallist Richard Mateelong (8:20.60) and Athens Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi (8:24.15) across the finish line.
With the Kenyan selectors settling for four runners to move into the pre-Beijing camp in Nairobi from Monday (27), former Olympic bronze medallist Paul Kipsiele Koech, who was out of the reckoning with a sixth place finish (8:36.75) was lucky to be drafted.
“I was not worried at all. I ran my race and I’m confident of another good outing in Berlin,” said Kipruto.
Cheruiyot also as expected
As expected, Vivian Cheruiyot won the women’s 5000m (15.25.21) but was pushed all the way by Sylvia Kibet (15:25.42) and the pair will be joined by Innes Chenonge (15.27:29) in Berlin in the battle against the Ethiopian pair of Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba.
“Meseret is my friend and I know how the Ethiopians run. I will not let them go this time and I know as a team, we can dismantle them,” said Cheruiyot, a silver medallist in Osaka two years ago.
Newcomer Gladys Kemboi won the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, continuing a tradition of a long list of runners from Marakwet in the Kenyan Rift Valley of dominating the race.
The men’s 5000m, though, offered a huge surprise as Vincent Chepkok (13:19.8) beat the experienced Eliud Kipchoge, 2003 World champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist in third place with Joseph Ebuya second. The three will travel to Berlin.
The Kenyan team now moves into camp at Kasarani on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi until 10 August when they take their flight to Berlin.
Elias Makori for IAAF
Kenya’s team to the World Championships:
Joyce Zakary (400m), Janeth jepkosgei, Pamela Jelimo (800m), Irene Jelegat, Nancy Jebet Lagat (1,500m), Ruth Bosibori, Gladys Kemboi, Milka Chemos (3,000m SC), Vivian Cheruiyot, Sylvia Kibet, Inness Chenonges (5,000m), Linet Masai, Florence Kiplagat, Grace Momanyi (10,000m), Julia Murage Mumbi, Martha Komu, Hellena Kiprop, Irene Limika, Risper Kimaiyo Jemeli (marathon).
Mark Mutai (400m), David Rudisha, Alfred Kirwa, Jackson Kivuva (800m), Asbel Kiprop, Haron Keitany, Augustine Choge (1,500m), Brimin Kipruto, Richard Matelong, Ezekiel kemboi, paul Kipsiele Koech (3,000m SC), Vincent Kiprop Chepkok, Joseph Ebuya, Eliud Kipchoge (5,000m), Micah Kogo, Moses Masai, Bernard Kipyegon (10,000m), Daniel Rono, Emmanuel Mutai, Robert Cheruiyot, Benjamin Kiptoo, Abel Kirui (marathon).
Selected results from the Kenya trials for the World Championships in Athletics:
100m – 1. Kipkemoi Soi 10.66, 2. Philip Ngwono 10.83, 3. Stephen Barasa 10.85;
400m – 1. Mark Mutai 45.55, 2. Jonathan Kibet 46.27, 3. Thomas Musembi 46.89, 4. Stephen Kamolo 46.95, 5. Anderson Mureta 47.09, 6. Stephen Musyoka 47.21;
800m - 1. David Rudisha 1:47.00, 2. Alfred Kirwa Yego 1:47.48, 3. Jackson Kivuva 1:47.96, 4. Boaz Lolang 1:48.35, 5. Geoffrey Kipkoech Rono 1:48.54, 6. Reuben Bett 1:49.05, 7. Hosea Kandie 1:49.43, 8. Richard Kiplangat 1:51.23;
1500m – 1. Asbel Kiprop 3:32.82, 2. Haron Keitany 3:33.59, 3. Augustine Choge 3:33.86, 4. Gideon Gathimba 3:34.83, 5. William Biwott Tanui 3:38.84, 6. Churchill Kipsang 3:39.04, 7. Suleiman Simotwo 3:47.55, 8. Bernard Kiptanui Kiptum 3:47.77;
5000m – 1. Vincent Kiprop Chepkok 13:19.8,2. Joseph Ebuya 13:20.2, 3. Eliud Kipchoge 13:24.2, 4. Edwin Cheruiyot Soi 13:24.2, 5. Mangat Kimai Ndiwa 13:26.0, 6. Joseph Kitur Kiplimo 13:28.2, 7. Mathew Kipkoech Kisorio 13:30.6.
3000m Steeplechase – 1. Brimin Kipruto 8:20.03, 2. Richard Mateelong 8:20.60, 3. Ezekiel Kemboi 8:24.15, 4. Michael Kipyego 8:24.91, 5. Abel Kiprop Mutai 8:30.81, 6. Paul Kipsiele Koech 8:36.75, 7. Collins Ngeno 8:37.24, 8. Patrick Kirui Langat 8:42.91, 9. Hillary Kipsang Yego 8:54.36;
400m Hurdles – 1. Vincent Koskei 50.8, 2. Emmanuel Kimeu 51.1, 3. Kiprono Koskei 51.6;
20km Walk – 1. David Kimutai 1:23.13, 2. Erick Shikuku 1:26.45, 3. Enock Muchende 1:37.09;
400m – 1. Joyce Zakari 52.43, 2. Grace Kidake 56.08, 3. Zippora Ratemo 56.21, 4. Wilkista Chuma 57.12.
800m – 1. Janeth Jepkosgei 1:59.31,2. Pamela Jelimo 1:59.49, 3. Cherono Koech 2:01.92, 4. Winny Chebet 2:05.12, 5. Charity Wandia 2:05.13, 6. Milka Chemos 2:07.09, 7. Nelly Jeptanui 2:07.29, 8. Annet Mwanzi 2:10.18, 9. Jane Jelagat 2:10.31.
1500m - 1. Irene Jelagat 4:12.05, 2. Nancy Jebet Langat 4:13.00, 3. Margaret Wangare 4:14.44, 4. Agnes Katunge 4:15.64, 5. Tabitha Wambui 4:16.25, 6. Viola Kibiwot 4:17.03, 7. Coleta Chepchirchir 4:37.11.
5,000m – 1. Vivian Cheruiyot 15:25.21, 2. Sylvia Kibet 15:25.42, 3. Iness Chengone 15:27.29, 4. Grace Momanyi 15:32.42, 5. Pauline Korikwang 15:.50.17, 6. Peninah Arusei 15:55.78, 7. Sally Kipyego 16:02.65, 8. Pascaline Cheptanui 16:08.28;
3000m Steeple – 1. Gladys Kemboi 9:32.62, 2. Milka Chemos 9:35.94, 3. Lydia Rotich 9:53.62, 4. Ruth Bosibori 10:08.33, 5. Caroline Tuigong 10:53.73, 6. Jackline Chemwok 10:41.01, 7. Jackline Jeruto 10:530.5;
400m Hurdles – 1. Florence Wasike 59.1, 2. Maureen Jelagat 62.9, 3. Maureen Mutindi 63.4, Tabitha Mwihaki 64.3