NAIROBI, June 19 – After breaking African youth steeplechase records, Vincent Kipyegon and Sandra Felis Chebet, are out to stamp their authority at the global stage when the ninth IAAF World Youth Championships gets underway in Cali, Colombia from July 15-19.
African Youth champion, Kipyegon obliterated his own 5:37.05 continental record at the National Trials for Cali in Nairobi when he uncorked his new lifetime best of 5:27.17.
He now has the task of reclaiming the boys’ 2000m title last won by World Championships silver medallist, Conseslus Kipruto, in 2011.
Ethiopia’s Meresa Khasay broke the country’s dominance at the water and barriers event referred to as ‘Kenya’s race’ when he motored to a World Youth all time best of 5:19.99 at the last edition in Donetsk, Ukraine two-years ago.
It was only the second time in the history of the event for the crown to escape Kenya’s grip and Kipyegon is fired up to tap into his record-setting momentum to restore ‘order’ in Colombia.
“I’m hoping to reclaim the title because this is our race. I just need to do more practice on my speed, tactics and clearing barriers. The Trials were tough because everybody came prepared. It was like a championship on its own.
“But it really helped me identify my weakness,” the 17-year old, from Sotit Secondary School underlined.
Kipyegon is aiming to follow the footsteps of double Olympics and three-time World Champion Ezekiel Kemboi and his dream is to compete at the Summer Games in Rio- de- Janeiro, Brazil next year.
To test his fortitude, he promised to turn up at the senior Trials for the Beijing World Championships where he will gauge his talent against a stellar cast including among others his idol, Kemboi, hot-shot and IAAF Diamond League winner, Jairus Birech and Commonwealth titleholder, Jonathan Ndiku.
“I will give it my best to make sure I make it to the Olympics team. I believe I have the potential to one day be like Kemboi, Kipruto and Kipsiele Koech who is my neighbour,” Kipyegon, who hails from Silibwet, Bomet County stated.
His coach, David Kimetto, was upbeat his charge will win gold.
“He performed well in the Trials based on the fact that he was coming from a previous championship. I will work on his speed work and endurance because I want him to be faster in clearing the barriers.
“I will train him with the hurdles used by 400m runners for him to adapt the technique of clearing the barriers. We are going for gold nothing less,” Kimetto, who was the Team Manager for 2015 Guiyang World Cross team outlined.
Geoffrey Rotich who finished three seconds behind Kipyegon also selected to represent the country at the boys’ water and barriers event.
Chebet turned the corresponding girls’ final into a procession and when she motored to the finish, her Africa Youth record set in Reduit, Mauritius of 6:20.47 lay in tatters when she stopped the clock at 6:16.19, the second fastest of the year.
Unlike their male counterparts, the Kenyan girls’ took the 2000m steeplechase honours in Donetsk with Rosefline Chepng’etich reigning supreme. Celphine Chepteek who was the bridesmaid, a resounding eight seconds behind the winner, will partner with Chebet in Cali.
“I’m happy to make the team, I’m confident I will bring gold. In Mauritius I broke the record and won gold now I want to break the World record. I will train more in my technique when clearing the barrier because I really struggle to pick up after jumping into the water,” Chebet said.
Since the girls’ event was introduced in 2007, Kenya has only lost the title once in 2009 when Lucia Kamene was beaten by Ethiopian, Korahubsh Itaa who set a World Youth record of 6:11.83.