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Obiri makes strong comeback as she eyes Olympics slot

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Hellen Obiri tucked in between the leading pack as Selah Jepleting leads the 5000m race/PHOTO-Raymond Makhaya

Hellen Obiri tucked in between the leading pack as Selah Jepleting leads the 5000m race/PHOTO-Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, April 27 – After successfully earning her comeback from a two-year maternity leave, 2013 1500m world bronze medallist Helen Obiri is eying a second appearance at the Olympics when the Kenyan trials will be conducted in July.

The 26-year old reached the 1500m final in the last Olympics in London in 2012 but she finished a disappointing 12th. However, looking on to the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro in August Obiri aims at making amends.

“I’m back after a long time but I’ve been training hard since January and I feel very strong. I want to keep going at it until I hit top form which will help me get through Kenyan trials,” Obiri said on Wednesday afternoon after competing at the Kenya Defence Forces Athletics Championships in Kasarani.

Obiri announced her return in style, running in two races, the 5000m where she won and her favourite 1500m race in a space of four minutes between each other.

In the higher distance, Obiri powerfully split up a highly competitive field to win in 14:56.07, beating seasoned athletes Selah Jepleting and Gladys Chepkirui.

Just four minutes after the 5000m race, the Laikipia Air Base (LAB) soldier lined up for the 1500m race but she could only contend with a third place finish behind the fresh legs of Winnie Chebet and Judith Kiyeng.

Despite a powerful start Obiri faded to third place as she could not sustain a blistering pace despite the conducive weather conditions.

Obiri says her next focus is on the Shanghai leg of the IAFF Diamond League next month where she says she will be running in her preferred 1500m adding she only stepped up to the longer distance to buff up her endurance and fitness levels.

Emmanuel Kipsang lifts his hands in celebration after winning the men's 10,000m/PHOTO-Raymond Makhaya

Emmanuel Kipsang lifts his hands in celebration after winning the men’s 10,000m/PHOTO-Raymond Makhaya

The opening day attraction of the Defence Forces championship though was the 10000m where a stellar cast of athletes fought off for the title. Emmanuel Kipsang, Stephen Arita, Kiplimo Mutai and Leonard Oloitiptip served a thrilling contest throughout the 25-lap race.

Kipsang emerged best from the elite field, stopping the clock in 28:28.1, 16 seconds faster than second placed Arita.

“I feel very strong and hopeful of winning something this year. I’ll vie for a place in the Olympic 5000m team but during the national championships I’ll run the 10000m.” Kipsang said after winning the race.

The 400m heats saw Alphus Kishoyan, Boniface Mweresa, Solomon Mutai and veteran Mark Mutai progress to the next stage as Pricila Tabunda easily won the women long jump and 400m hurdles without much competition.

In the 100m, legendary sprinter Elikana Nyang’au’s sons Walter Moenga and Mike Mokamba will clash in the finals after sailing to easy wins in the heats. Moenga has been out for two years with a leg injury but is raring to face his younger sibling who broke both 100m and 200m records last year.

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