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Sizzling Kipketer eyes Eugene 800m gold

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KIKETER-BAHAMASNAIROBI, Kenya, July 22- The moment of reckoning for Alfred Kipketer comes Friday when he lines-up for the heats of the men 800m at the 10th IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Kipketer is aiming to progress from the first hurdle and the semis before landing his place in the medal race on Sunday so he can add World Junior gold to the World Youth top medal he won last year in Donetsk, Ukraine.

The talented teenager, 17, has already served notice of his capabilities this season by running a World Junior leading 1:44.2 at the high altitude of Nairobi besides anchoring the Kenyan 4x800m relay team to gold at the inaugural IAAF World Relay Championships in Bahamas in March.

The sixth born in a family of eight opted out of the Commonwealth Games senior squad to fulfil his dream of bidding farewell to age running with the greatest prize of all available in the sport for a runner aged 20 and below.

“After Bahamas, I was called for the Commonwealth Trials and even given a lane at the final after I decided not to run in the semis but I told them I want to finish my running as a junior in Eugene since I have many years ahead of me to run as a senior,” Kipketer, said before they departed for Oregon for the biennial IAAF showpiece that starts Tuesday.

The student at Kosirai High School in Nandi started out in the sport in the 100m dash before stepping up the distances from 200m, 400m and finally the two-lap race that has brought him international acclaim after missing selection in the Kenyan team in his first and second years of his secondary education.

“My coach told me not to give up, next time, it would be my time. He suggested we train harder and learn from my mistakes and my prayers were finally answered when I made the World Youth team,” Kipketer told.

It was third time lucky for him last year when he made the Donetsk World Youth squad by winning the Trials in 1:48.9 on June 10 before going on to strike gold in 1:48.01 to secure Kenya’s fifth 800m title in 14 editions of the event.

From the gun in Ukraine, he flew to an astonishing 48.63 split at 400m – which was notably faster than the 49.28 that David Rudisha ran en route to his 1:40.91 World record at the London 2012 Olympics – He was reeled in with 200m remaining but had enough energy in reserve to hold onto the lead in the final metres.

“I did that because I was so scared, I was shaking, it was my first world final and I could not imagine losing. I realised at 600m that I was going too fast to finish so I slowed down and did enough. I was not chasing any record, I just wanted gold,” he revealed.

“I want to be a champion, not only in Eugene but in future. I will keep working hard at it,” he added as he packed his bags for Oregon where he expects to return with the gold.

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