The team that will represent Kenya at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, from 27 September to 6 October, took shape after the two-day trials meeting concluded in Nairobi on Friday (13).
With a top-three finish required to make the Doha-bound team in the middle and long distance events, most of the battles were hotly contested, with six of the eight filling out the schedule on the second day of action.
The most surprising result came in the men’s 800m where Ng’eno Kipng’etich, the 2018 silver medallist at the World U20 Championships, took the title to notch an upset victory over Emmanuel Korir in 1:44.57. Korir was second in 1:44.62 with Ferguson Rotich third, another 0.01 behind.
Jackline Wambui, the 2017 World U18 champion, took the women’s title in 1:58.79, just clear of Eunice Sum, the 2013 World champion who clocked 1:58.99 for second. Emily Tuwei rounded out the top three in 1:59.23.
After some minor injury setbacks earlier in the season, reigning World and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon displayed solid form, taking the victory in 4:03.22, with Winny Chebet in tow just another 0.01 behind. Selah Jepleting, runner-up at last month’s national championships, was third to punch her ticket to Doha, clocking 4:05.20.
Conversely, three-time IAAF Diamond League champion Timothy Cheruiyot dominated the men’s race in 3:34.91, well clear of Ronald Kwemoi and George Manangoi who clocked 3:36.61 and 3:37.00, respectively.
On Thursday, unheralded 20-year-old Michael Kibet made his move with 300 metres remaining to secure the 5000m title in 13:26.83. Daniel Simiyu, the national champion, was second in 13:27.95 with Nicholas Kimeli taking the third spot in 13:27.99. World U20 and African champion Edward Zakayo, one of the pre-meet favourites, was a distant ninth, his training derailed by illness in recent weeks.
Lilian Kasait, who raced to the African Games title in Rabat last month, took top honours in the women’s 5000m on Friday, clocking 15:43.55. Margaret Chelimo was next in 15:46.65 with national champion Sheila Chelagat third. The trio will join defending 5000m champion Hellen Obiri who will double back in the 10,000m. Chelimo was fifth at the 2017 World Championships.
On Thursday, Diamond League champion and world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech led a strong quarter across the finish in the 3000m steeplechase final, with the first three holding hands as they crossed line.
Chepkoech won the race in 9:45.15, just ahead of 2015 world champion Hyvin Kiyeng (9:45.20) and Celliphine Chespol (9:45.24). Fancy Cherono, the African Games silver medallist, finished fourth a few steps back in 9:50.11 to capture the fourth spot up for grabs after Chepkoech secured a wildcard with her Diamond League victory.
And in the men’s steeplechase, another world U20 silver medallist, Leonard Bett edged Benjamin Kigen to take the win, 8:20.29 to 8:20.56, to secure his first senior World Championships appearance. Bett, who took the 2017 world U18 title in the 2000m steeplechase, won’t turn 19 until November. Abraham Kibiwott, last year’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist, was third in 8:24.61 to seal his spot on the team. The trio will join defending champion Conseslus Kipruto, who reportedly dropped out of the race with laps to go.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF