NAIROBI, Kenya, August 28 – With what was largely an acclaimed performance at the Moscow Worlds to emulate, the Kenyan team for the Africa Junior Athletics Championships departed for Mauritius on Tuesday exuding confidence of another bumper medal harvest.
The competition that starts on Thursday and runs until Monday, Sept. 1 will see 22 athletes represent the East African nation.
“The team was inspired by watching their seniors do well in Russia and it has been easy to motivate them to aim for excellence. We have prepared well and are ready to face our competitors,” said coach Gregory Kilonzo on Tuesday ahead of their departure to Mauritius.
“We have some experienced runners in the team who ran at the World Youth Championships last year who will help the new ones adapt to competition. This is their chance to make a name for themselves,” the coach added.
Athletics Kenya (AK) vice-presidents, David Okeyo and Lt. Gen ( Rtd) Jack Tuwei, accompanied the squad hoping the team will post another commanding performance.
“This competition introduced the world to athletes such as David Rudisha and Pamela Jelimo and our aim is to return with more than the five gold medals the senior team won in Moscow.
“We have given them all the support since they came to camp and there is no reason for them not to do well as is expected of any Kenyan athletics team,” Tuwei noted.
World men’s 800m record holder, Rudisha and 2008 women 800m Olympics champion, Jelimo, who holds the World Indoor title were among the gold medallists at the 2007 Africa Junior Championships in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where Kenya recorded their highest ever gold medal tally at all levels of competition, 13.
“To match or better what happened in Burkina Faso at that time is asking too much of the team and we do not want to put them under any pressure. Its just like the Moscow team that was faced with winning the seven number of gold medals as Kenya did in Daegu in 2011 but they came back with five which is commendable,” Tuwei added.
World Youth silver medallist, Moses Mukono, a training partner for Rudisha and Sheila Chepng’etich who placed sixth at the same competition in addition to Africa Cross silver winner, Agnes Tirop, are the foremost names in the squad.
The officials who will accompany the team are; Erastus Kabugi – Team Manager, Henry Lebo – Assistant Team Manager, Kilonzo and Hosea Sang as coaches and Lydia Muraya as the team chaperone.
Men: Kenneth Kirui (400m hurdles), Geoffrey Kiprotich (200m), Moses Bett (800m), Jonathan Kiprotich (800m), Kiplagat Cherono ( long jump), Vincent Tarus (long jump), Mathew Kiptanui (1,500m), John Maina (1,500m), Alex Kiprotich (Javelin), Elvis Cheboi (10, 000m), Josephat Kiprop (10,000m), Moses Mukono (5,000m), Benard Kipkemboi (5,000m), John Koech (3,000m S/Chase) and Festus Kiprono (3,000m S/Chase).
Women: Agatha Jeruto (800m), Sheila Chepng’etich (3,000m), Miriam Muthoni (1,500m), Agnes Tirop (5,000m), Lina Cheruto (5, 000m) and Marion Kibor (3,000 S/Chase).