NAIROBI, July 11 –National Police Service sprinter, Joyce Zakari, stole the show as four records fell on an incident-packed final day of the Safaricom National Athletics Championships on Saturday.
The three-day meet saw world beaters, 2011 double distance world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot , 2008 Olympics and two-time world champion Asbel Kiprop and World Cross title holder, Geoffrey Kamworor bag national titles as the event climaxed at Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani.
Running under scotching heat in the high altitude of the Kenyan capital; sprinters grabbed the headlines after new records in men’s 100m, women’s 400m, 100m hurdles, 400m and 400m hurdles with another in the women 200m surviving due to hand timing.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Priscilla Tabuda set up the tone in the opening race when she dropped a stunning 14.08 in the women’s 100m hurdles to obliterate Florence Wasike’s 14.21 record set during the Nairobi 2010 African Championships.
Zakari set the unofficial national standard in the women’s 200m when she returned a hand timed of 22.4 that bettered the long standing record of former African champion, Ruth Waithera, 23.37 set during the 1984 Olympics Games.
She went on to formally erase Waithera’s 51.56 400m record set at the same Los Angeles Games, when the uncorked 51.14 for victory ahead of Prison’s African silver medallist, Maureen Jelagat who came second in 52.24 while Jecinta Shikanda took bronze in 53.06.
“I feel so happy because I was not expecting to set a 400m record since my event is 200m. I’m in good form and impressed with my kick. I hope to lower it during the Worlds Trials since I will not run 200m,” the elated, Zakari gashed.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, Fransisca Koki improved on her 55.84 national standard set at last year’s Africa Championships in Morocco, after stopping the timer at 55.82 for gold.
Mike Mokamba made light of the absence of elder brother and defending champion, Walter Moenga to set a new record of 10.23 in the men 100m to erase Tom Musinde’s 10.26 set at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algiers.
“I feel great to win both events especially setting a new 100m national record. Since I have met the world qualifying standard I hope to do well and represent the country in Beijing.
“I’m now going to work on my start which I feel is a let down,” Mokamba, the son former Kenyan legendary sprinter, Elikanah Nyang’au, an Olympics gold winner in 1972, underscored.
Titleholder, Hellen Obiri was out to attend to maternal duties leaving the women 1500m crown vacant and it was Daegu 5000m/10000m double champion, Cheruiyot who subdued the field to succeed the KDF athlete.
Herself returning from maternal break, Cheruiyot stepped down the distance to take the honours in 4:09.88 ahead of Judy Kiyeng of KDF (4:11.46) with Sheila Jepleting closing the podium (4:13.21).
Cheruiyot, who led from gun to tape was using the three lap race to clock up the speed ahead of the Beijing Trials that will be held on July 31 and August 1.
“I’m happy with the time that I have set today because it’s not my event. It has helped me a lot because of the speed.
“I’m preparing for the trials so it will help me to have a good kick in the final lap of 5000m since I’m working hard to regain my World title,” Cheruiyot who was ushered at the finish by men 800m record holder and Police teammate, David Rudisha asserted.
Kiprop bagged the men two-lap honours after crossing the finish ahead of Olympics men 800m bronze medallist, Timothy Kitum and 2010 Africa bronze medallist, Jackson Kivuva in 1:45.4.
Kitum came home second in a close finish (1:45.5) ahead of 2006 World Juniors silver medallist, Kivuva’s 1:45.7.
“It was tough since I was competing alongside great guys but I’m happy I have done Police proud. After running 800m I’ve seen my speed is good so before the Trials I will be around 80 percent fit since my aim is to win the 1500m world title for the third time,” Kiprop stated.
Kamworor stopped the timer at 13:14.7 to be crowned the men’s 5000m champion to extend his good form to the track.
The World Half Marathon champion, beat Worlds bronze medallist, Isaiah Koech (13:23.3) to second while KDF’s Emmanuel Kipsang took the third medal (13:25.4).
Kamworor fulfilled his favourite role to perfection, using his front running gait to batter the field to finish well clear of his nearest challenger, Koech, when he finished motoring around the track.
With two laps to go, Koech took control as Kipsang feel off the pace in third but at the bell, Kamworor showed his prowess to uncork a decisive surge before kicking away to a powerful finish on the homestretch.
Kamworor was using the event to find his speed ahead of the Beijing Trials where he will compete in the 10000m.
Ivy Kiyeng was another notable winner after upsetting Commonwealth champion, Purity Cherotich in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:33.40 with the gold and silver medallists decided on photo finish.
Cherotich was second in 9:33.41 while World Junior champion Rosefline Chepng’etich took the third medal well behind the top pair (9:39.77).
Africa silver medallist, Vincent Yator clinched the men’s 10,000m (27:51.0) after beating Charles Yosei (27:54.6) and James Rugani (28:08.2) in the race that saw former World Junior winner, David Bett (fifth) and 2011 national champion, Peter Kirui (seventh) fade from the podium.