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Smiling Kamworor delights as Kenya names team for Worlds

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Geoffrey Kamworor celebrates after winning the 10,000m race at the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Nairobi, Kenya, Jun 24 – Two time World Cross Country and World Half Marathon Champion Geoffrey Kamworor led a list of usual suspects making it into the 10,000m team for the August IAAF World Championships in London as the Kenyan trials concluded on Saturday evening.

Kamworor led Bedan Karoki and Paul Tanui across the line to pick the three automatic slots on a day Athletics Kenya named a provisional list of 46 athletes; 20 female and 26 male to defend the overall team crown won in Beijing two years ago.

The common enemy for the three men is one Briton, reigning champion Mo Farah.

“He has beaten us over time in the same race using the same tactic. This time, we will go there with a different approach and I am confident that we will beat him. We will sit down with the coaches and make out a very good plan on how we will win that elusive gold medal for Kenya,” Kamworor said just after winning the race at Nyayo Stadium.

The same trio tried to challenge Farah in Beijing but was unable finishing second, third and fourth with Kamworor topping the bill with a silver while Tanui took bronze and Karoki finished outside the medal bracket.

“If there is a time we will beat Farah, then it is this time. We are all in shape and we are used to running together. We have to work on a good team plan and I am confident that gold is coming home,” a determined Karoki told Capital Sport.

Geoffrey Kamworor leads the pack at the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“On the road we usually beat him (Farah) easily because we have so much endurance. The only thing that gives him advantage on track is his finishing kick. We are going to work on our speed and ensure we perfect,” Karoki further stated.

It was a competitive race under the mid-morning sun at Nyayo, but at the end of the day, the three showed their supremacy.

They stuck well within the leading pack throughout until it was down to five laps when the wheat was separated from the chaff. Kamworor all this time tucked in between the athletes, smiling and giving a thumbs up when someone screamed his name from the stands.

They were pulling in some teamwork with Karoki, signaling each other when it was time to pull in some kick of pace.

Mathew Kimeli and Mathew Kisorio dropped out of the leading six with three laps to go, the trio leading the pack while World Cross Country silver medalist Leonard Barsoton sat at the back.

At the bell it was the smiling Kamworor who pulled the pace, followed swiftly by Karoki with Tanui now trailing as the two blazed the home stretch. With 100m to go, Kamworor showed some good finishing kick, crossing the finish line in 27:35.9

Karoki followed second in 27:40.3 while Tanui was third in 27:42.6.

-Kwemoi dazzles in 1500m-

ROnald Kwemoi crosses the finish line ahead of Timothy Cheruiyot during the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

In the 1500m, Ronald Kwemoi ran the second fastest time this year, winning the 1500m race in a dazzling time of 3:30.89 while World leader Timothy Cheruiyot came in second. The Kenyan team to London will have four athletes with Asbel Kiprop, the defending champion earning a wild card.

Kiprop took up the pacing duties in the final on Saturday, helping his mates put in some good time pulling up at the front of the pack in the first two laps before fading away and ultimately jogging off the track as he let the youngsters battle for the ticket.

Elijah Manang’oi and Cheruiyot who had been at the front of the pack for most of the race lost out to Kwemoi who dug deep into his energy reserves in the final 50 metres to win the race and ensure he bags a ticket to London.

Cheruoiyot came in second in 3:31.05 with Manang’oi squeezing in at third in 3:32.03 just managing to wheel away from fourth placed Justus Soget whose weak finishing kick saw him lose out.

Though he made the qualifying time, Soget was not drafted into the team as only the first three across the line were picked.

In the corresponding women’s race, Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich easily won the race in 4:05.7 ahead of 2006 World Junior silver medalist Winny Chebet who timed 4:06.8. Third placed Sella Jepleting missed out on the4:07.50 qualifying time.

-US based Korir stuns in 800m-

Emmanuel Korir lifts his hands in celebration after winning the 800m race during the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

In the 800m race, United States based student Emmanuel Korir toppled stiff competition in his first ever appearance at the national trials stopping the clock in 1:43.86.

Just two show how much talent Kenya has in the race, only one of the eight starters in the race, Alfred Kipketer failed to meet the qualifying time with seven athletes all running well within the required 1:45.90.

With World Junior champion and Kenya’s upcoming sensation in the two-lap race Kipyegon Bett leading into the final lap, Korir pulled out from the rear with less than 50metres to go, kicking in some suicidal pace to outwit Bett.

Korir stopped the timers at 1:43.86 with Bett coming in second at 1:44.04 and Michael Saruni finishing third at 1:44.61.

Ferguson Rotich was pushed to fourth but he was still named in the team by virtue of winning the Diamond Trophy last season. AL named five athletes in the race with defending champion David Rudisha having a wild card.

It is left to be seen whether all the five will squeeze into the team or one will be dropped.

-Yego throws season’s best-  

World javelin champion Julius Yego screams in delight after throwing a season’s best of 87.97m during the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Julius Yego, already assured of a slot in the team as defending champion threw a season best of 87.97 marking his best throw locally.

The Olympic silver medalist who has been struggling for form this season was a darling of the Nyayo Stadium crowd which chanted hisname heavily every time he picked the javelin. When he thrust well above the 85m mark, the entire stadium roared in praise as so did his competitors on the field.

“I felt very encouraged every time the fans rose up to chant my name and I only had to reward them with a good performance. It feels really great to throw such kind of a distance at home and for the fans who have only been watching me on TV, this is a gift to them,” a pleased Yego said.

He will be joined on the list for field events by triple jumper Elijah Metei who has made it into the World Championships for the first time.

-Koech misses on Hurdles, Otieno gets 200m card-

Harun Koech spreads his arms in celebration after winning the 400m Hurdles race during the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

In the sprints, none of the eight athletes in the 400m hurdles made the qualification time and only World Champion Nicholas Bett was named in the final team by virtue of his wild card.

His younger brother Harun Koech failed to get the required time of 49.35 having won the race in 49.98. However, he expects to run in Algiers and one more Diamond League race to try and get the time.

Olympic silver medalist and African champion Boniface Mucheru did not race in the trials as he is recovering from injury but if he manages to recover and get the qualifying time in one of the Diamond League races, then he will be considered.

At the same time, national 100m and 200m champion and record holder Mark Otieno narrowly missed out on his bid to double at the worlds, but he still earned a ticket to London for the 2008.

Otieno fell out a few microseconds of the 10.12 qualifying time, clocking 10.36 to win the Saturday morning race ahead of Peter Mwai who timed 10.45.

In the 200m race, despite finishing second in 21.04, Otieno progressed by virtue of having attained the qualification time of 20.44, having run 20.14 during the national championships two weeks ago.

Team Kenya for London

Women:

400m –Maxmilla Imali, 800m- Margaret Nyairera, Eunice Sum, Emily Cherotich, 1500m – Faith Chepng’etich, Winny Chebet, 5,000m – Hellen Obiri, Margaret Chelimo. 10,000m – Agnes Tirop, Irene Cheptai, Alice Aprot, 20km walk – Grace Wanjiru, Marathon- Edna Kiplagat, Helah Kiprop, Phlomena Cheyech.

Men:

200m- Mark Otieno, 400m- Raymond Kibet, Collins Omae, 400m Hurdles- Nicholas Bett, 800m- David Rudisha, Emmanuel Korir, Kipyegon Bett, Michael Saruni, Ferguson Rotich, 1500m- Ronald Kwemoi, Timothy Cheruiyot, Elijah Manang’oi, Asbel Kiprop, 3,000m steeplechase- Conseslus Kipruto, Brimin Kipruto, Jairus Birech, Ezekiel Kemboi, 5,000m –Cyrus Rutto, James Kiplagat, 10,000m- Geoffrey Kamworor, Bedan Karoki, Paul Tanui, Walk- Samuel Gathimba, Samuel Wachira, Javelin- Julius Yego, Triple jump- Elijah Metei.

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