DAEGU, South Korea, September 1- As the second half of the World Championships got underway here; the Kenyan talent on show in Thursday’s morning session boosted their medal prospects by ensuring progression.
The women 800m, men 5000m and men 4X400m squads navigated to the semis and finals of their disciplines on a session when South Africa’s Caster Semenya, the women two-lap champion who made headlines in the 2009 edition in Berlin, mounted her defence.
First off the gun were the men 5000m trio fronted by former World Champion and Olympics silver winner, Eliud Kipchoge, who is making a record fifth appearance for Team Kenya and they duly secured their passage in Sunday’s medal race.
Kipchoge, who placed fifth in Berlin last term, clocked 13:39.02 for a comfortable fourth finish with teammates, world junior 3000m gold medallist, Thomas Longosiwa (13:34.36) and Isaiah Kiplagat (13:34.54) joining him in the medal hunt by coming home in second and fourth in the first heat.
Kenyan born, American Bernard Lagat, who won the world title in 2007 won the first heat in 13:33.90 with World Cross champion, Imane Merga (13:37.96) taking the second in a competition where men 10,000m silver winner, Mo Farah (Britain), Galen Rupp (USA), Dejen Gebremeskel (Ethiopia) who are some of the medal prospects made it to the final.
Having stated her desire to re-capture the world crown she lost in Berlin, Janeth Jepkosgei underpinned her intentions by winning her heat in 1:59.36 with compatriots Eunice Sum (2:01.37) and Cherono Koech (1:02.03) also booking their slots.
However, attention was on Semenya who faced 11 months out of competition after winning the world title in Berlin following the international row sparked over her gender.
After finishing second in 2:01.01, Semenya stormed past the mixed zone, only stopping to chat briefly with a South African journalist as she declined interviews.
“She said she will speak later,” the journalist said.
– Mutwiri Mutuota is reporting for Capital FM from South Korea