Wanjiru, Gathimba set sights on London worlds

Africa Race walking queen, Grace Wanjiru and king, Samuel Gathimba after sealing the Kenyan double ...
Africa Race walking queen, Grace Wanjiru and king, Samuel Gathimba after sealing the Kenyan double in Durban. PHOTO/Courtesy

Africa Championships walkers are the latest entries in Team Kenya for the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London slated for August 4-13.

African race walking queen, Grace Wanjiru and king, Samuel Gathimba as well as Simon Wachira add on to the list of six athletes who already already qualify by virtue of being defending champions.

Among the six others is two-time Olympics 800m champion and World record holder David Rudisha who is in Jamaica for the Racers Grand Prix set for Saturday.

Wanjiru who spoke Citizen Digital at the Nyayo National Stadium on Day 2 of the National Athletics championships underlined her intentions to lower her personal best when she features at the British capital.

Along with Kathimba and Wachira, the six-time African Champion made her international debut during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and is now keen to extend her continental dominance on the global stage.

“I learnt a lot in Rio and the experience I got will help me lower my personal best of 1:30.43 and set my eyes on the podium by God’s grace,” Wanjiru said.

Her compatriots Gathimba and Wachira had disappointing outings in Brazil during the Summer Games due to technical glitches with a track judge indicating they had finished their race yet had about 500m still to go.

Reigning African champion Gathimba was nonetheless happy with the time he posted at the national championships (1:23.58) which equaled that he recorded back in 2014 against former All Africa Games champion David Kimutai Rotich.

“It shows that I have maintained my pace and if I can keep sustain it in London then I should be in the medal bracket,” Gathimba who won the African championships in Durban last year asserted.

He vowed he had learnt his lessons from the Rio mishaps and hoped their would be no such repeat in London.

His close friend from Kenya Prisons Services Wachira finished second in 1:23.58 despite feeling unwell during the walk.

“If we have a podium finish in London we shall definitely catch the eye of one of the mangers. That will be my main driving factor there,” Wachira said post-race.

Coach Julius Kirwa insisted that all athletes with wild cards should compete during the National Trials that will be due in a fortnight.

Kirwa added African High Jump Champion Matthew Sawe has to pre-qualify citing that Kenya is in A standard.

“We are going there (London) with a lot of expectations. All eyes will be on us and I need to make sure that the athletes we are sending for the championships can actually compete.

“Sawe qualified as a B standard during the African Championships in Durban as is the case with the walkers. They came here and competed 20km and we have seen they are okay since they beat the qualifying time. Sawe only has to convince us during the men’s high jump finals on Saturday, ” Kirwa said.

Sawe will be looking forward to breaking his national record of 2:25m which is also the qualifying height. He missed it narrowly by 0.05m last month during the Kenya Defense Forces Championships.

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Story By Charity Wanja
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