NAIROBI, Kenya, July 5- The returns of former African champion, Haron Keitany, 2007 All Africa Games gold medallist, Willy Komen and the 2010 African bronze winner, Jackson Kivuva, to competition highlighted Day 1 of the Kenya Championships in alternating dry and wet conditions in Thursday.
Keitany, the African champion in 2008 and 3:30.20 personal best runner fizzled out of action after injuring his tendons at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin but returned Thursday to win his heat in the men 1500m, beating Bahamas World Relays runner, Nixon Chepseba to the honours.
Women’s world 1,500m bronze medallist Hellen Obiri, world 5,000m bronze medallist Isaiah Kiplang’at and World Indoor champion Caleb Mwangangi staged brilliant performances to take their heats.
Olympic 800m bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, Boniface Mweresa and Alphas
Kishoyian launched their campaigns as the battle for the Glasgow Commonwealth and Africa Championships in Marrakech got off in earnest.
Keitany, better known as ‘Landcruiser’ for his powerful running after the off road Toyota model of the same name promised to give the favourites who include World champion, Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat who competed in Rome a tough test in Saturday’s finals.
“I have suffered from the nagging injury for long and some psychological stress. But I can confirm to you that if anyone had bewitched me and, maybe, planted some demons near my house, then my results this season will pluck them off,” Keitany.
Komen, the man who beat Olympics and World Champion, Ezekiel Kemboi to the Pan African Games crown finished third in his men 3000m steeple heat behind the 2009 World Youth Champion, Hillary Rotich and Kenya Prisons runner,
In the same heat, Worlds silver winner, Conseslus Kipruto, showed up in Kenya Police colours for his first race of the season but was ruled out of contention for the final when he finished seventh.
Kivuva returned in the men 800m after a period out due to injury and Kenya Defence Force commitments to append his name in the semi finals alongside Olympics bronze winner, Timothy Kitum and Ferguson Rotich who won gold in the 4x800m at the Bahamas World Relays.
In the women 1500m heats, Hellen Obiri was untouchable, winning her preliminary at a counter following her America all comers record at the Eugene Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon last weekend.
Action rolls on to Friday with the loaded 10,000m the focus in the event that was televised live for the first time ever by terrestrial pay television channel, SuperSport.
*Official times were not compiled by the time of going to press