Chepkirui eyeing 3000m world record in U-18 championships
Team Kenya for the World Under-18 Championships set to start this Wednesday at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani is ready to bag all the available medals, at the five day event.
According to team captain and World Junior 5,000m silver medalist Emmaculate Chepkirui, the 46-member team is motivated and is ready to set the pace for the their seniors, who will be travelling to London for the IAAF World Championships two weeks later.
As an individual, Chepkirui intends to write history on the first day of the competition by lowering the 10-year old girls 3000m flat record of 8:53.94, set by former World Championships silver medalist Mercy Cherono in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
“I would like to be like Mercy. She broke the youth record and no one has done it until now. I have been thinking about it for a long time. Earlier in the year I worked on my endurance during the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala.
“My speed is okay and now in shape ready to for a podium finish and making history,” said Chepkirui, the World Cross silver medalist.
Her counterpart David Saruni, who was motivated by 2016 Rio Olympic silver medalist Boniface Mucheru and World Champion Nicholas Bett to race in the 400m hurdles is also eying the coveted world title.
Saruni’s main focus will be to put his best foot forward during the 400m hurdles heats on day two of the competition in the afternoon.
“My expectation is follow on Bett and Mucheru’s footstep’s and set a personal best. With the training that we have been doing for the last 15 days I believe we shall be victors.
“We did not know much about the blocks and the hurdles techniques but now we know enough to be world beaters.
“I used to run the 400m flat and my coach encouraged me to try the hurdles since I had the speed. It motivated me to peruse the event even though Kenya is not known a lot in sprint the two put a challenge for me with their medals,” said Saruni, the overall team captain.
Meanwhile, Kenyan 16 athletes who failed to meet the IAAF qualifying standards were excluded from the team.
However, being the host country, Kenya was allowed to field one unqualified athlete in an event where no one met the required entry standards.
“We had selected a provisional team of 60 athletes and sent their names to the IAAF, including the sprinters and field athletes though most of them had not qualified.
“After their (IAAF) report, we could not field two athletes in each event as earlier planed. However, they provided an opportunity for one athlete though unqualified,” Team Manager Joseph Illovi clarified.
He underscored all was not lost for the axed athletes, saying they have much to offer for the country in the near future.
“We explained to the affected athletes and they understood. However, they did not go home empty handed, they received their allowances of 15 days and training kits. Some are yet to receive everything but once it’s sent it will be delivered to them. We let them stay in camp so that they can also benefit from our coaches.
“We are not only looking at the U18, we are also focusing on next year’s World Junior Championships. The skills they acquired during training will be useful to them in upcoming competitions,” he offered.
Team Kenya reported at the athletes’ village at the Jomo Kenyatta University on Sunday after being flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday.
So far, over 26 countries have arrived out of 130 expected to grace the international show piece.
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