World junior 3000m steeplechase champion Daisy Jepkemei will defend her title in the US city of Eugene next month as part of the largest ever Kenyan contingent going to the IAAF World Junior Championships, following the conclusion of the two-day Trials in Nairobi on Wednesday (25).
World youth champions Alfred Kipketer, Lilian Kasait Rengeruk and Rosefline Chepngetich will also be out to scale the next ladder in global competition and have been named in the preliminary squad of 27 by Athletics Kenya.
Having won a gold medal as part of the Kenyan 4x800m quartet at the IAAF World Relays last month, rising two-lap sensation Kipketer had a gun-to-tape victory in the men’s 800m in 1:45.67 but had to work hard to hold off the fast-finishing Joshua Masikonde, who finished second in 1:45.85.
“I’m well prepared and, from the beginning, I was ready to run from the front all the way. Winning my first senior gold medal in Bahamas was a good way to start and my aim is to add the world junior title,” said the student at St Francis High School in Kamuron, the same school attended by world record-holder David Rudisha.
Maximilla Emali won the women’s 800m in 2:04.20 and held off Margaret Nyairera, second in 2:04.24 in another tight finish.
Chepngetich prevails over Jepkemei
Having beaten Daisy Jepkemei to the world youth title in the 2000m steeplechase last summer in Donetsk, Rosefline Chepngetich once again forced her rival to accept second place in the women’s 3000m steeplechase showdown, the clocks showing 9:43.25 and 9:53.02 respectively.
“I was not expecting to win here today since I’ve not trained much due to school. I’m going to prepare well to do my best and I’m so excited I’m going to Eugene where I hope to return with gold,” commented the student at the aptly named Winners' High School, the same institution that two-time world junior champion Faith Kipyegon attended.
“At Winners', we are allowed to train well and study. Having Kipyegon as a former student there motivates us. Our coach Charles Ng’eno helps us to achieve both goals,” added Chepngetich.
World youth bronze medallist Titus Kipyego, a relative of three-time world champion Vivian Cheruiyot and well-known marathon runner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, prevailed in the corresponding men’s race in 8:22.46.
Barnabas Kipyegon, who will join his near name sake on the team going to Eugene, was second in 8:24.10
“I want to go and defend our title and hopefully follow in the tradition of great steeplechasers like Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto," said Kipyego. "This was my chosen event, I did 1500m last year to test my speed and now I’m sure I can do it.
“Vivian and Robert inspire and encourage me a lot in athletics and I want to make my family proud."
Chebwogen's defeat the big upset
The 3000m defeat of Mercy Chebwogen, who was imperious in Barcelona when winning the 3000m title while still a youth, was the biggest upset of the meeting as she could only muster a fifth-place finish in 9:30.72, in a race which world youth champion Lilian Kasait Rengeruk won in 9:15.22, with the over-age Nancy Nzisa second in 9:15.59.
Moses Mukono, who bagged the continental cross-country honours earlier this year in Uganda, has unfinished business at the World Junior Championships and he duly secured his ticket by winning the men’s 5000m in 13:46.8, ahead of Fredrick Kipkosgei in second with 13:47.7.
“In Spain, I did a mistake and finished eighth. I want to exit junior running with a bang in Eugene and for the last two years, I have overcome a lot of challenges to make this possible,” said Mukono.
In the men's 10,000m, Elvis Cheboi triumphed by nearly four seconds, crossing the line in 28:33.73 on Tuesday.
The provisional team enters camp on Monday for training and verification of their papers.
The 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships will be held between 22-27 July.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for the IAAF
Provisional Kenyan squad for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships
200m: Geoffrey Kiprotich
400m: Alex Sampao, Raymond Kibet
800m: Alfred Kipketer, Joshua Masikonde
1500m: Jonathan Sawe; Hillary Cheruiyot
5000m: Moses Mukono; Fredrick Kipkosgei
10,000m: Elvis Cheboi, Nicholas Kosibei
3000m steeplechase: Titus Kipyego, Barnabas Kipyegon
400m hurdles: Geoffrey Kipkoech, Stephen Kipkoech
200m: Maureen Thomas
400m: Nafula Nyalyana
800m: Maximilla Emali, Margaret Nyairera
1500m: Sheila Chepngetich, Winfred Mbithe
3000m: Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, Valentine Maiteko
5000m: Agnes Chebet, Loice Chemning
3000m steeplechase: Rosefline Chepngetich, Daisy Jepkemei
Relay squad(s) to be announced later.