NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17- A storming victory by Worlds 5000m bronze medallist, Isaiah Kiplang’at Koech and the mugging of World Indoor champion, Caleb Mwangangi by the fast finishing former Commonwealth champion, Augustine Choge spiced up the 2014 National Police Service Championships that concluded Saturday.
With Police luminaries such as Olympics champions, David Rudisha and Ezekiel Kemboi as well as Worlds titleholders, Eunice Sum, Asbel Kiprop, Edna Kiplagat and Milcah Chemos among others sitting out, the two-day annual meet held at Nairobi’s Safaricom Stadium under clear sunny skies was stripped of quality but certainly not entertainment.
However, Kiplangat and Choge, two distance runner quite capable of headlining meets across the world, showed up and collected handsome victories in the men 5000m and men 1500m before making bold predictions of their intentions for the season ahead.
Kiplang’at jails competition
As the events on the programme ticked down to an unassuming end, Kiplangat decided to illuminate proceedings when he unshackled himself from nearest competitor; 2010 World Half Marathon bronze winner, Sammy Kitwara and the rest of the finalists with four laps to go motor powerfully to the line unchallenged.
The showstopper who ran the world leading 13:29.05 at the Melbourne Challenge in February otherwise known in local circles as ‘Chairman’ but now ‘President’ due to sharing his name with the overlord of Athletics Kenya boss stopped the clock at 13:42.2 in his first outing this season to lay a benchmark for his 2014 assault.
“Winning the bronze medal last year in Moscow made me so delighted and it has opened many doors for me. Now, I want gold at the Commonwealth Games since I feel I should now step up.
“Today’s race was easy, not what I’m used to but now I know I’m in shape. I was also in good shape at London Olympics and I missed a medal. Last year I broke records indoors and when I went to Moscow, I got a medal and now I believe I have learnt how to run at championships,” Kiplangat, displaying the lack of self containment that characterised his early days as a junior protégée stated.
And he was not done as far as setting lofty targets in his bludgeoning career was concerned for the world junior 3000m indoor record holder from 2012 (7:32.81) as he set his sights on Kenenisa Bekele’s 12:37.35 5000m outdoors all time best.
“Last year, I ran 12:48 (.64) in Paris and I’m still young and improving. Who says I can’t get to 12:37? That is one of the goals I have set myself in training, to bring the 5000m world record to Kenya. That is something I’m looking forward to challenge this year and if I don’t get it, then the next,” the 20 year-old power-pack asserted.
Daniel Komen was the last Kenyan to hold the 12 and a half-lap race world record when he powered to 12:39.74 in Brussels on August 22, 1997 before it passed on to Ethiopian giants, Haile Gebrselassie (12:39.36) a year later then Bekele in 2004.
Choge arrests Mwangangi
When they assembled at the Sopot World Indoors in Poland last March, the veteran men 3000m silver medallist from Istanbul 2012, Augustine Choge, 27, was the main man and Caleb Mwangangi, a junior 1500m gold winner from 2010, the apprentice.
However, a gripping medal race brought the global title for the understudy who dyed his hair red as the master limped home in ninth.
The pair clashed over 1500m on Saturday at the Police meet and a repeat of the new order was eminent as they came round the final bend. However, with the finish in sight, Mwangangi in the inside lane could not respond to Choge who came storming in Lane 2 before pick-pocketing victory from him on the line with the hand-timed timers returning a verdict of 3:35.5 against 3:35.8 in the close finish.
“In Poland, I had trained to win the gold having won silver two years before but mentally, I was not there in the final and simple mistakes cost me but I was not so disappointed since the gold still came to Kenya and Caleb ran a great race.
“My aim now is to return to the Commonwealth and win again, in the 5000m since winning the title in 2006 is the best thing to happen in my career and I want to experience it again. I will still run 1500m races but I have realised I have a better chance in 5000m,” the Berlin Worlds fifth finisher in the Metric Mile declared.
“I did all I could, it was hot but today, he was better prepared and congratulations to him. Winning gold in Poland has made me want more and the celebration is over, I have seen the competition is tough so all I have to do is to train harder,” Ndiku magnanimously offered.
Abednego Chesebe (3:39.0), Robert Kaptingei (3:39.3) and world’s third fastest 3,000m steeplechaser runner Paul Kipsiele Koech (3:40.5) closed the top five.
“This is the year when I aim to run faster and who knows? Even bring home the world record back to Kenya. We have come close to Shaheen (Saif Saeed) and with focus, it can be done.
“I know my problem with high attitude when it comes to the Kenyan Trials but if I make it this year, I would cherish adding a Commonwealth medal to my bronze from Athens Olympics (2004) but having come here for speed work today, my biggest target remains ending the year as the fastest steeplechaser in the world,” Kipsiele who opened his season with a third finish (8:05.47) in Doha a week ago underlined.
His career best 7:54.31 is just over 32 hundredth of a second out of the former Stephen Cherono’s 7:53.62 standard bearer in the water and barriers race that has now rolled on into its decade since it was run in Brussels on September 3, 2004.
Kisa, Wangare shines
Africa Cross silver medallist, Janet Kisa (4:16.0) carried the women 1,500m title ahead of 2010 Commonwealth Youth Games silver winner Stacy Ndiwa (4:16.1) with Florence Korir (4:24.9) claiming the bronze.
Monica Wangare (34:13.7) shone in 10,000m beating Consolata Chemutai (34:22.1) and Sarah Kebasu (34:32.4). Chepng’eno Lang’at (34:44.5) and Mary Chemutai (35:12.4) closed the top four.
On Friday, World Half silver medallist, Mary Wacera claimed the women 5000m title in 6:22.0 ahead of Ndiwa who bagged her first silver of the meet in 16:22.3, beating Ann Wanjiru Karindi (16:31.0) to the third medal.
Josphat Bett struck gold in the men 10,000m with the 2008 World Junior crownholder stopping the clock in 28:36.2 as Peter Kirui, the athlete who paced Patrick Makau to the world marathon record in Berlin in 2011 and former World Junior champion, John Kemboi running 28:36.5 and 28:40.0 for the lesser medals in that order.