NAIROBI, Kenya, August 4- Commonwealth titleholder Milcah Chemos and African titleholder Mercy Njoroge will represent the country in the 3000m steeplechase women finals after booking their tickets on Saturday.
Chemos and Njoroge produced respectable third place finishes in their respective heats to qualify for Monday’s final while the third Kenyan Lydia Rotich finished a distant eighth to bid the games farewell in round one having failed to recover sufficiently from illness.
Chemos, who is the fastest woman steeplechaser for 2012, was the first off the mark in the water and barriers race in Heat 1 won by Felicitas Krause of Germany who crossed the line in 9:24.91, ahead of Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia in 9:25.31 while she was third in 9:27.09 to earn a berth in the medal race.
Commonwealth silver medallist, Njoroge competing in Heat 3 settled for third in 9:25.99 behind Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia who was first across the line in 9:24.01 while Russian Yuliya Zaripova was second in 9:25.68.
Rotich failed to qualify after clocking 9:42.03 in heat two which was won by Assefa Sofia of Ethiopia who returned 9:25.42 ahead of Habiba Ghribi who was second in a season best of 9:27.42 while Emma Coburn of the USA completed the top three in 9:27.51.
Although many Kenyans would have dreamed of a clean podium sweep, they will be banking on the two to deliver a 1-2 finish in the distance when they return to the track on Monday at 11.05pm local time.
While the men 3,000m steeplechasers have won the last seven Olympic titles, the female counterparts are yet to break their duck at the event.
Eunice Jepkorir came close in 2008 by winning silver behind Russia’s Gulnara Samitova-Galkina world record effort of 8:58.81 at the Beijing edition.