NAIROBI, July 5 – Commonwealth games 5,000 metres champion Augustine Choge registered an impressive 1500 metres win as the national athletics trials ended in a thrilling climax at Nyayo national stadium on Saturday.,
The 1500 metres race had been billed as the race of the trials and it lived to its billing as the classy field battled for the Olympic slots. Choge started his long kick with 600 metres to go holding off All Africa Games champion Asbel Kiprop who finished second while Nicholas Kemboi came in third.
“I am so happy to make the team. I was really worried because the field was very good I was out with injury for most of last year so it feels good to be back. I am going to give my best in Beijing especially as I will be up against Bernard Lagat,” said Choge
2004 Olympic 3,000 metres steeplechase gold medallist Ezekiel Kemboi signalled his intentions of defending his Olympic crown with a superb race winning in 8:13.56. World champion Brimin Kipruto finished second with African champion Richard Mateelong coming in third in 8:13.89.
“I am the defending champion and I am going to defend my title at all costs as no one is going to take my gold,” said a defiant Kemboi afterwards.
There was no place for Paul Kipsile Koech who despite putting his all in the final lap was beaten right at the end by Mateelong.
World junior 800metres record holder Pamela Jelimo continued with her ominous form clocking the fastest ever time run on Kenyan soil as she won her specialty in 1:57.71. World champion Janeth Jepkosgei was second in 2:00.90.
Moses Masai won the men’s 10,000 metres in 28:0203 with World bronze medallist Martin Mathathi finishing second in 28:03.95. After so many years of futile attempts to make the team, Micah Kogo finally gets his chance after coming in third in 28:08.92.
“After two years of battling illness, am now fully fit and looking forward to Beijing. I know the Ethiopians are tough but I have beaten Sileshi Sihine before so with good training anything is possible,” said Masai.
Edwin Soi then produced a stunning finishing kick to win the men’s 5,000 metres race in 13:29.5. The 21 year old was so far ahead that he started his celebrations with a 100 metres to go.
“I was so confident because I knew I could do the last 200 metres in 21 seconds. I am happy to make the team after missing out on Osaka last year and hopefully I will do Kenya proud in Olympics.”
World silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge was second in 13:32.4. It was redemption for Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa who made the team after finishing third and will get a chance to compete in Beijing two years after he was dropped from the national junior team due to allegations of age cheating.
Former World Indoor champion Wilfred Bungei rolled back the years to win the men’s 800 metres in 1:45.08. Nineteen year old Boaz Lalang will represent Kenya for the first time after finishing second in 1:45.21 while World 800 metres champion Alfred Kirwa got in by the skin of his teeth after finishing third.
“I feel very good to have made the team. It was good experience because I had not run with such top athletes before. I will try my best in Beijing and if I can win any medal I will be happy,” said Lalang.
The squad of 37 will move to camp on Monday at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.
Nancy Jebet Lagat
Priscah Jepleting Cherono
Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa
Moses Ndiema Masai
Martin Irungu Mathathi