NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Leonard Kipkemoi will be out to beat his Personal Best when the Boys 2000m steeplechase final will run on Sunday, the last day of the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.
Both Kenyans qualified for the final and they will be tasked to ensure the powerhouse nation in the water and barrier event retain the title that was won by Vincent Kipyegon in Cali, Colombia in 2015.
Kipkemoi automatically qualified in the second semi-final after crossing the line first in 5:46.66 ahead of Ethiopian Girma Diriba who came second in 5:47.86 while Anil Kalayci from Turkey was third in 5:52.64.
Despite not beating his Personal Best of 5:28.52 set at the Nyayo National Stadium on June 14 during the National Trials, Kipkemoi ran the fastest race of the day to ensure his semi produce two of the best losers.
Now going into the final, Kipkemoi says for Kenya to deliver the gold, they must embrace team work with his compatriot Cleophas Meyan who qualified from the first semi final after finishing second in 5:51.83.
“I did not struggle in the race because I knew this was just the first round, my main aim was to make sure I qualify for the final. I will do all it takes to be a World Champion. I have spoken to my compatriot and agreed on the technique we will use to beat our rivals and ensure we win gold and silver,” Kipkemoi told journalists after the race.
On his part, Meyan who was beaten by Ethiopian Alemu Kitessa, was pleased with his performance, but noted he will rectify his errors in clearing the barriers that cost him the win.
Meyan only took charge of the race from Alemu in the second last lap before the lanky Ethiopian reclaimed the lead to open a 30m gap and go all the way to win in 5:49.79.
“I am very happy to qualify, now its upon me to work hard for the final. I have seen where to rectify my mistakes which is in the clearing of the barriers and at the start because I started off badly,” Meyan, who hails from Nakuru County, said.
“I don’t fear Ethiopians, I can assure Kenyans that there is gold from either me or my compatriot,” the 16-year-old added.
In other results from the morning session, Kenya’s Gloria Mulei sailed through to the Girls Triple Jump final after setting a 12.6m Personal Best in her first attempt.
In the Boys Discus, Joseph Nyakundi failed to qualify for the final after finishing second from bottom of Group A with 30.5m throw to see Kenya have no representative in the final.
It was the end of the road for Mary Moraa in the Girls 200m after she bowed out in the first round, finishing sixth in a time of 25.48.
However, in the corresponding Boys race, Philemon Mopia qualified in the semis with a Personal Best of 21.79 after finishing third.