Otieno stuns as National Championships end on high


High jump national champion and record holder, Matthew Sawe in action. PHOTO/Courtesy
FILE PHOTO: High jump national champion and record holder, Matthew Sawe in action. PHOTO/Courtesy

Eastern’s Mark Otieno brought the National Athletics Championships to a stunning finish on Saturday when he shattered the Kenyan 100m record and capped a dominant display with three gold medals.

Otieno clocked 10.14 at the Nyayo National Stadium to smash the previous record of 10.23 held by Mike Mokamba’s en route to winning the national title as African Champion Matthew Sawe qualified as a B standard in high jump.

Sawe will however, keep his fingers crossed with the hope he will get a nod from the international athletics governing body IAAF.

Coach Julius Kirwa was impressed by Sawe’s jump of 2.25m and set a meeting for Monday with the African Champion.

” This is a good start for me, now we can confidently write to the IAAF asking them to consider Sawe for the World Championships. If they agree he will not only represent Kenya but Africa as a whole. It will also be great if we had another athlete in the field event,” Kirwa said as he continued to select athletes for the upcoming National Trials later this month.

Sawe was all smiles and not dissapointed for not breaking his national record but had high hopes for the World Championships after missing out on Rio 2016 Olympics Games.

“The last time I made it to 2.25m was in 2015. In Durban I did 2.21 and went for 2.29 that’s why I did not make the B class. When I go back to France I shall work on a few techniques like the last three steps.

“I hope within a month’s time I shall have mastered it and be ready for the World,” Sawe said as he shifts focus to Ostrava World Challenge later this month.

The day however belonged to Otieno who creamed the day with two more medals in the 200m which earned him a nod to compete at the Trials in June 23 and 24 while the other medal came from the 4X200m realys finals.

“Thank you, Mark, for making our Eastern Region team shine conspicuosly.You are a great asset to us, in spite of training within the Eastern diaspora more often. Best wishes in London,” Joseph Kinyua, the former Athletics Kenya (AK) treasurer said.

There was surprise in the 1500m finals where former Olympics gold medalist and three-time World Champion Asbel Kiprop was stunned by Timothy Cheruiyot and Justus Soget.

Soget, 18, is a form four student but was unfazed to line up alongside world beater Kiprop and stole the show by defeating the defending World Champion in his first competition at the senior ranks.

Soget who is coached by Barnabas Kitilit in Nakuru alongside fromer 3000m World Junior Champion Richard Kimunyang caught the eye of coach Kirwa who offered to invite him for the trials.

Soget, under the advice of his coach, turned down the offer and opted to race during the IAAF World Under 18 and Africa Junior Championships trials mid next week.

“When I saw Timothy break off I knew Asbel could be right behind me. I decided to push ahead and not think of him. I wanted to set a personal best,” the media-shy Soget said.

Cheruiyot took top podium place in 3:41.0 while Soget and Kiprop settled for second and third places in 3:41.5 and 3:42.6.

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Story By Charity Wanja
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