Beijing champions to illuminate Eldoret AK meet
World champions, Asbel Kiprop, Julius Yego, Nicholas Bett and Vivian Cheruiyot are among the stellar cast of athletes who will turn the sixth and final Athletics Kenya (AK) Track and Field Weekend Series Meeting into a precursor of the July Rio 2016 Olympics Trials starting from Thursday at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.
Other world-beating stars expected include Moscow 2013 800m women’s champion, Eunice Sum and freshly minted World Indoor silver medallist at the distance, Margaret Nyairera, Worlds 5000m silver medallist, Mercy Cherono as well as seasoned veterans Paul Kipsiele Koech, Nixon Chepseba, Silas Kiplagat and Viola Kibiwott among others.
For the second time in the region’s athletics history, the build-up stopper will be held on the tartan after Kipchoge Stadium was upgraded to international standards last year.
According to Central Rift AK officials, preparations for the competitions, the last of the six-tier series, have been finalized with thousands expected in the country’s distance running heartland.
“All is set for the 6th Athletics Kenya Weekend Contest. Most of our top class and up-and-coming runners will be participating in both the track and field events. This will be their last local competition before the International Association of Athletics Federation’s Diamond Meeting and subsequent League in Europe,” said Central Rift Region AK Secretary Kennedy Tanui said.
Borrowing from the history of the affiliate that prides in accommodating the highest concentration of top class athletes in the world, an unpredicted number will throng the North Rift town, baptized ‘The City of Champions’ and the programme must be re-designed to accommodate the number of heats particularly in the middle distant events.
“We have put into considerations the great number that may turn up especially on the first day. We are going to have several heats and semis and officials who are going to man the event must be thorough and fast. We must do our best. The track is fine and in good conditions,” added Barnabas Kitilit, the Central Rift AK Vice-chairman.
During the last meeting in Kisii at the beginning of the month, a world class field decorated the competitions despite the venue, initially attracting the top cream owing to its fast time returns, turning away the best last year including 800m World record holder David Rudisha.
The upgrading of Kipchoge Stadium to the international specification has shift the trend of national competitions and boosted training of a number of athletes who use the region’s high altitude during their preparations.
This is the first public tartan facility in Kenya outside the capital. Kenya-turn Dutch Lornah Kiplagat has put a similar track in Iten, some 32kilometres North East of Eldoret but runs it as private facility.
Eldoret is going to be last build-up competitions after the five meetings that saw athletes compete in Bondo in Nyanza North, Mumias in Western, Thika in Central Region, Nakuru in the South Rift and Kisii in Nyanza South.
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