NAIROBI, Kenya, June 22 – Back from injury, World Youth champion Kumari Taki once again proved to be a hard nut to crack as he cruised to victory at the National Trials to automatically book a slot for the IAAF World U20 Championships slated for Bydgoszcz, Poland from July 19-24.
Kumari will lead a strong squad of 24 athletes named by Athletics Kenya on Wednesday after the two-day Trials concluded at Nyayo National Stadium.
The team that comprises most of the athletes who represented the country at the 2015 IAAF World U18 Championships in Cali, Colombia, will report camp on Sunday under the tutelage of Robert Ngiserei.
Taki, an African Youth record holder, braved the chilly weather to bounce back from finishing second in the heats and win in 3:38.8 ahead of Edwin Kiptoo who also qualified in 3:39.0.
“The race was very challenging because it had experienced athletes who have been running good races. This is my second race of the season. I’m recovering from injury and that’s why I did badly at the East African Games,” Taki, who picked the leg injury last December while training for the Commonwealth Youth Games, said.
“I was not expecting to win because I was unable to cop up with the pace during the heats. My aim was to make it to the team. I’m happy with the time that I ran today but I can still do better than last year,” the 19-year-old added.
Taki will not be concentrating on improving his Personal Best of 3:36.38 but will be out to win a medal to add on to his World Youth and Commonwealth Games tittles.
“My first target is to win a medal not breaking the record but if it comes well and good. At least I now have the experience of competing in a championship having raced against my seniors. I have identified my weakness which is lack of power in the last lap but I will work on it,” Taki underscored.
“I hope to run 3:35 by the end of the year as I seek to run in the last two Diamond Leagues. Next year I will graduate to senior and I hope to progress in style,” Taki, whose role model is three-time Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop, stated.
Having bagged silver at the Cali World Youth Games in the girls 2000m steeplechase, Sandrafelis Chebet will compete in the 3000m in Poland.
Chebet was on her own class after returning 9:02.0 way ahead of Sheila Chelangat who crossed the line second in 9:11.6.
“The weather was not favourable but I’m happy I managed to win. I’m confident to win gold in Poland because I want to graduate to the senior in style. I dropped from the Africa Championships Trials to concentrate in the World Junior Championships and I thank God it was not in vain,” Chebet said.
As expected, Bett Kipyegon won the men’s 800m, clocking 1:44.4 ahead of rival Willy Tarbei (1:45.2) while Winfred Mbithe and Joyline Cherotich qualified in the women’s 1500m.
Moffat Ngari (200m), Nicholas Chirchir (400m H), Kumari Taki, Edwin Kiptoo (1500m), Rodgers Kwemoi, Ronald Kirui (10,000m), Wesley Ledama, Moses Koech (5000m) Jeffrey Kiprotich, Edwin Ngeeti (400m), Bett Kipyegon, Willy Tarbei (800m), Amos Kirui, Vincent Kipyegon (3000m S/C)
Winfred Mbithe, Joyline Cherotich (1500m), Immaculate Chepkirui, Catherine Syokao (5000m), Sandrafelis Chebet, Sheila Chelengat (3000m), Betty Chepkemoi, Josephine Chelangat (800m), Celphine Cheptek, Betty Chepkemoi (3000m S/C)
Officials: Robert Ngiserei (coach), Joseph Kilomi (TM), Leah Rotich (head of delegation).