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Malel tops, Konsecha opts out of Barcelona

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8- World and Commonwealth Youth 3000m gold medallist, William Malel, is out to seek the double after nailing his ticket for the 10000m race at Barcelona World Juniors during the Kenyan Trials that started on Friday.

Malel was the dominant winner of the men 25-lap race in 28:29.3 and he immediately set his sights on qualifying for the shorter 5000m when the selection event concludes on Saturday at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium.

Fellow World Youth and Commonwealth Youth winner, Leonard Kosencha, who was a strong bet for Barcelona in the 800m, declared he would not compete at the World Junior Trials opting to wait for the Olympics selection event next month.

“He believes he has a chance and we decided to allow him pursue his Olympics dream,” national head coach, Julius Kirwa confirmed why Kosencha, the World Youth record holder did not race despite presenting himself at the stadium.

During the first day of the Trials, Caroline Chepkoech, the younger sibling of World Junior champion, Mercy Cherono also sealed her place in the Barcelona squad when she edged out hard chasing Agnes Jebet for the win in the women 5000m race with the timer returning 15:49.1 against 15:49.6.

However, in partly cloudy conditions with humidity at 65 percent, Japan based Toyota Kyushu Corporate team Malel, who struck gold at the Lille World Youth as before adding the Commonwealth Youth title last year, earned the chance to complete the hat-trick in Barcelona next month when he crushed the field on the first final of the day.

“I only came back home three days ago from Japan and I was hoping the weather would not be so different and fortunately, it was not bad. I had decided to run 10000m and 5000m today and the race was not bad.

“This was the first time to attempt 10000m here after running my first race in Japan and I thank God that I made it since I was used to run 3000m. Having stayed in Japan for almost two months, I was worried about how I would perform here,” Malel said after clinching on of the two available tickets in the men 10000m.

After the field rumbled through the opening 10 laps, Malel picked up the pace with Philemon Cheboi, Bernard Katui and Eliud Tarus forming the closest challengers. However, the Lille and Isle of Man winner surged with two laps to go for the win as Cheboi led the challengers home to clinch the second Barcelona berth in 28:36.8.

Katui (28:55.0) was further back in third after edging a sprint battle for the last podium place against Tarus who was credited with 28:55.1 as Emmanuel Bett (29:05.0) closed the top five.

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“My aim is to run well in Barcelona and bring the gold home. I was not satisfied with my performance at the Africa World Cross in South Africa after winning the Trial in February since I had a small problem when training in Ngong. I did not agree with that position,” the winner who finished 7th at the continental cross event added.

Chepkoech, who won the Africa Cross junior title last year before winning the bronze medal over 3000m in Lille will get the chance to emulate her two-time World Junior gold winner elder sister, Cherono after topping a two-way battle for the honours.

Having won the Africa Junior title in a championship record of 15:24.66 in Gaborone, Botswana last year, Chepkoech underlined her credentials for Barcelona when after detaching from the field with Jebet in tow, the Lille bronze winner found the legs to take the race.

Eunice Chebichi led the challengers’ home in 15:59.7 ahead of fourth placed Roselyn Chemg’etich (16:07.0).

In the women 3000m steeple, newcomer Daisy Jepkemei earned the right to represent her nation after winning the trial in 10:06.6 as Stella Ruto came in with 10:07.4 to clinch the second berth.

Kenya will send 27 athletes with the selection criteria being the first two across the line provided the runner has met World Junior entry standards.

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