NAIROBI, June 17- Newcomer Willy Tarbei clocked the 12th fastest time of the year when he blasted to a staggering 1:44.51 in boys’ 800m for the signature performance of Kenya’s Trials for 2015 Cali IAAF World Youth Championships in the punishing elevation of Nairobi on Tuesday.
Tarbei stunned favourite and Africa Youth champion Kipyegon Bett in a photo finish to the thrilling race with the runner-up timed at 1:44:55 that ranks No 13 on 2015 world list in the electronically timed final as the country’s next generation of world beaters stamped their mark.
“Two Kenyan teenagers just ran 1:44.51 and 1:44.55 over 800m. Puts them among the top five youth athletes in history,” leading global statistician and IAAF online editor, Jon Mulkeen wrote on Twitter besides the link to the Capital Sport report.
Tarbei and Bett were included in the team of 26 that will represent Kenya at the Colombia age global showpiece whose next edition in 2017 is likely to be hosted at the same Nyayo Stadium.
“It was a tough race. We crossed (400m) in 51 seconds before running 1:44. I have never run such a time the last time I was in national level my time was slow 1:48 but today it improved,” Tarbei who hails from Kericho and is a Form 4 (final year) student at St. Jude Kokwet Secondary School said after his jaw-dropping performance.
It was at the track where world record holder, David Rudisha, set a 1:42.84 stadium record at the Trials for 2012 London Olympics.
Rudisha went on to win Olympics gold in the current standard of 1:40.91 and Tarbei is hoping to emulate the two-lap idol by clinching the top medal in Colombia and succeed Alfred Kipketer who took the title at the last edition in Donetsk, Ukraine in 2013.
“I will work on my speed and make sure I come home with gold. My role model is Rudisha, in fact we train with him in Iten and he has helped me a lot especially in skills,” the winner added.
Bett, who won the continental crown in April when Reduit, Mauritius hosted the event by clocking 1:51.67; was delighted with his new lifetime best adding it gave him motivation to go for the World Youth championship record held by 2011 winner and current world senior champion, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia (1:43.37) in Colombia.
“I know Tarbei and I will win gold and silver. The race was tight but I felt I could win but I was a bit naive. Most of the runners here were not around when we ran the Africa Youth.
“I have never run 1:44 in my life but I’m sure I will maintain it and will work to lower it. I’m expecting a gold medal with the best time over. I’m aiming at breaking the World Youth record and only USA can give us competition,” the Africa Youth titleholder added.
Athletics Kenya vice-president in charge of competition and administration, David Okeyo, hailed the performance as indication the country’s new talent were ready to take on the world stage.
“The performance was great. The athletes we have selected surpassed the IAAF standards by far. We have good talent espacially in 800m.
“Remember when Aman first ran at the World Youth, he return 1:43 and he is now a world beater. That means at least we are not running out of good athletes,” the administrator noted.
– Chebet blows girls’ steeple-
Addis Ababa Africa Junior 3000m bronze medallist, Sandra Felis Chebet who added the Africa Youth 2000m steeplechase crown in Mauritius in 6:20.47 crushed the competition in the latter’s trial to stop the clock in 6:16.19, a huge improvement on her career best.
Her time was the second fastest this year behind Germany Gesa-Felicitas Krause’s 6:15.52 National Record mark ran last month to underline her credentials having improved from number 4 in the same list with her mark in Reduit.
Such was her dominance that her bridesmaid Celphine Chpteek who will join her in the Cali team came home over eights adrift (6:24.27).
“I’m happy to have made the team and I will bring gold. There was no much competition and I have never ran with any of them. That is why I started fast and slowed down but led all the way to the end,” the budding versatile distance runner underlined.
Kumari Taki (3:37.54) beat Lawi Kimtai (3:41.10) in the boys’ 1500m with Janeth Jepng’etich winning the corresponding girls’ trial in 4:20.12 in a close finish against Joyline Cherotich who followed home with 4:20.89.
In the newly found national passion, Edward Langat who won the Long jump with 7.33m and Triple jump in 15.34 will represent his nation in both as the only field competitor in Cali.
In the sprints, Aaron Kimutai and Mackson Sirere will run in the boys’ 200m with Edwin Ngeeti and Josphat Ngetich doing the boy’s lap-race.
Damaris Akoth is the solo representative in girls’ 200m with Purity Joy Chepkoech and Jane Njoki teaming up in 400m. Boys’ 400m hurdlers Emmanuel Kipyegon and Nicholas Chirchir complete Kenya’s line up in short distance events.
The team reports to residential training on Sunday ahead of their departure for the July 15 to 19 World Youth in Colombia.
Veteran Robert Ngiserei was appointed head coach, Mutahi Kahisa Team Manager and Joyce Akada Chaperone.
Since the IAAF World Youth Championships began in 1999, Kenya has finished in the top two on the medals table at all but one edition.
Their best overall performance came in 2009 when they topped the table with six gold medals, seven silver and one bronze.
200m: Aaron Kimutai, Mackson Sirere; 400m: Edwin Ngeeti, Josphat Kipng’etich; 800m: Willy Tarbei, Kipyegon Bett; 1500m: Kumari Taki, Lawi Kimtai; 3000m: Richard Kumunyan, Davis Kiplangat; 400mH: Emmanuel Kipyegon, Nicholas Chirchir; 2000mS: Vincent Kipyegon; Geoffrey Rotich; Triple jump/Long jump: Edward Langat
200m: Damaris Akoth; 400m: Purity Joy Chepkoech, Jane Njoki; 800m: Betty Chepkemoi, Mary Kalakye; 1500m: Janeth Jepng’etich, Joyline Cherotich; 3000m: Emily Chebet, Sheila Chelangat; 2000mS: Sandra Felis Chebet, Celphine Cheteek