Helen Chemutai and Cecilia Kiplagat earned their share of the Athletics Kenya Sh1m Jackpot after winning their respective events on the first day of the Kenyan National Championships yesterday at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Many top names missing
In the qualifying rounds of the middle and long distance events, some of the major names of Kenyan athletics highlighted by Olympic silver medallist, Isabella Ochichi, made an appearance. NOTE. Many top stars have been given permission to sit out these championships in order to prepare for next week's World Championships trials.
In stark contrast to the dominant worldwide level of Kenyan distance running, Chemutai with a leap of 5.63m, was the first to lay claim to her jackpot stake by winning the women’s Long Jump. Chemutai conceded that the second place performance of Mary Njeri’s 5.58m had given her a real scare. Georgina Mbinya was placed third with 5.35m. While in the women’s Javelin Throw, Kiplagat faced little resistance from her opponents as she hurled the spear 48.55 metres. Susan Kobiret finished distant second after throwing 42.44m, while Mary Njeri came third in 40.48m.
The two have to wait for the completion of the championships this weekend to know if they will have to share the money with other jackpot winners. To qualify for the prize, athletes had to win their respective events four times in the domestic season including at the National Championships.
Others battling for a share of the Jackpot are Elizabeth Muthoka (200m), Florence Wasike (400mH), Vincent Mumo (200m), Sammy Keskeny (Javelin Throw), and Luka Kiprop (Long Jump).
Back on the track…
Meanwhile, former women’s World 10,000m champion, Sally Barsosio won her 5000m semi-final in 16:19.6. Also in the 5000m race was New York City Marathon runner-up Susan Chepkemei.
Nancy Wambui was second in 16:20.2, while Irene Cherutich was fourth in 16:20.7. Chepkemei, who ran a relaxed race out-sprinted several runners in the final stretch to take fourth place, 16:22.4. Jesca Obare followed in 16:36.5.
Former New York City and London Marathon champion, Margaret Okayo was beaten into the fifth place in the first 5000m semi-final. She was timed in 16:25.2. Little-known Esther Chemutai, who won that semi-final was timed in 16:11.8. Alphine Tuliamuk came second in 16:12.4, ahead of Gladys Cherono (16:16.8) and Gladys Chemweno (16:24.3).
Tuliamuk and Chemweno are building up for next week's Trials after failing to make the national youth team for the IAAF World Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.
Ochichi upset by the absence of other stars
Olympic silver medallist, Isabella Ochichi opted for the 1500m, the second semi-final of which she won in 4:18.5.
Ochichi said the absence of some of the other major stars had watered the championships down a bit in importance.
“This event is not competitive as most top runners are not here. I think it was wrong for runners to skip the event,” commented the Athens runner-up, who also confirmed that she will take part in the 5000m at the Trials.
Iness Chenonge was second in Ochichi’s heat, while Beatrice Wangari took the third slot in 4:23.4.
Nancy Chebet won the first 1500m heat in 4:24.6, and was followed home by Susan Muthoni (4:25.10) and Gladys Chemutai (4:27.0).
Omulo Okoth (The Standard) for IAAF