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Olympic 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop and Commonwealth Games 400m titleholder, Mark Mutai were supplanted as the headline acts by the conditions at the two-day 2nd National Bank of Kenya/AK Track and Field meeting at Narok University grounds that ended Saturday (2).
Heavy rains that flooded the headquarters of the newly created Transmara County on Thursday had put the event that attracted over 2000 athletes in doubt but the venue that is located three kilometres from the town on higher ground held up for the meet to take place.
“Three of the inside lanes could not be used on Day 1 but the murram track had dried up on Saturday to allow us to use all the lanes on the final day. It was a good track nonetheless,” Kenya sprint coach, Stephen Mwaniki, said.
Day 1 of the event witnessed the latest attempted comeback of Olympics 800m women’s champion, Pamela Jelimo who after finishing second in the 200m heats, competed and failed to finish in the 1500m preliminary races. She did not feature on the final day.
World men’s 800m record holder, David Rudisha, the most eminent athlete from the region, failed to turn-up as expected after the event clashed with a planned track training session in his Iten base on Saturday.
“We want to focus him on the upcoming track season,” Rudisha’s Irish coach, Brother Colm O’Connell explained the absence of the two-lap phenomenon. “Even though he won both his races in Australia, the times were slower meaning he is not completely fit and that is what we are working on since once the season sets in, the races will come thick and fast.
“After taking ten days to rest after Sydney, we had planned a track session for him in Iten on Saturday.”
Mid and long distance races
In the absence of Rudisha, Kiprop assumed the headline act of the meeting where he opted for the step down from his favoured 1500m to enter the two-lap race.
Having won his heat, Kiprop faced a determined line-up in the 800m final where Administration Police runner, Joseph Kinyor (1:49.0) and Lanet based Defence Forces athlete, Hosea Kandie (1:49.4) led the Olympics titleholder across the line. Kiprop’s lanky legs returned 1:49.7 for third.
Commonwealth, Continental Cup and African men’s 3000m Steeplechase champion, Richard Mateelong who hails from the area, gave the home fans a treat when he powered away from all challengers at the bell to cruise to a 14:02.4 victory in the 5000m race.
Mateelong, who missed selection for the Punta Umbria World Cross team at the Kenyan trials, forced Patrick Ereng (14:10.5) and William Malel (14:11.7) to accept the lesser podium places.
Kuresoi’s Geoffrey Kirui charged away from Kisii’s Benson Nakeri to seal victory in the men’s 10,000m in 29:11.8. Nakeri held off Nyahururu’s Lewis Nyariki (29:22.2) for silver. Geoffrey Ng’eno (9:01.1) won the men’s 3000m water and barriers race ahead of Gilbert Kirui (9:06.3) and favoured Abraham Chirchir who came home third in 9:06.7.
In the women’s races, Africa Cross Country junior 6km titleholder Caroline Chepkoech, enhanced her reputation when she sprinted clear of Bydgoszcz World Cross ninth placer (junior) Alice Aprot to romp home victorious in 16:25.2.
Chepkoech, the younger sibling of World Junior 3000m titleholder Mercy Cherono, has set sights of making the Lille World Youth team. Aprot took runner-up 16:36.8 with Beatrice Mutai (16:46.9) taking bronze.
While the fortunes of Jelimo who was crowned queen of the two-lap race in 2008 where she won 13 of the races she entered are floundering, Narok unearthed a probable name to look out for in the distance in the shape of 800m Nelly Chepkosgei who completed a 2:07.5 gun to tape victory.
The youngster jailed Kenya Prisons runner Annet Mwanzi (2:08.1) as Gladys Cherono (2:08.6) came third.
Kisii’s Jane Onyangi (36:02.4) was the commanding victor in the 10,000m run with Milicent Maina (36:32.3) and Zipporah Chebwet (36:56.0) coming in second and third while Lydia Chepkirui (10:36.8) edged IOC/IAAF High Performance Training Centre runner Veronica Chepkosgei (10:37.8) in the close finish to the 3000m Steeplechase. Ruth Muthoni (10:48.7) was third.
Commonwealth 400m titleholder Mark Mutai failed to fulfil his favourite role at the men’s 400m race after Laikipia Air Base athlete, Jonathan Kibet (47.0) and Prisons Service exponent Moses Kertich (47.9) claimed his scalp. Mutai was third in 47.9
The corresponding women’s race saw the competitive return of former multiple national champion Elizabeth Muthoka from a two-year doping violation ban but the veteran was no match for Kericho’s Vivian Chelagat who won in 57.1. Muthoka was second in 57.8 with Prisons Service team mate, Grace Kidake taking bronze in 58.2.
Kenya Police runner, Millicent Ndolo completed 100m and 200m women’s dash double in 12.5 and 25.3 on the timer respectively while Prisons Collins Mulla (10.0) and Newton Rotich (22.1) took victories in the men’s 100m and 200m.
African record holder, Grace Wanjiru and former continental champion, David Kimutai were once again peerless in the women and men 15Km race walking events. Wanjiru clocked 1:17:31 while Kimutai, a veteran of three World Championships took the men’s race in 1:09.41.
The 3rd NBK/AK National Track and Field meeting will be held in Kisii on 16 April. The first held in Kisumu on 25 and 26 March featured sprints, medley relays and selected field events.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for the IAAF
NBK/AK 2nd TRACK AND FIELD MEETING, NAROK SELECTED RESULTS (all performances hand-timed)