BYDGOSZCZ, Poland, July 19 – World Youth and Commonwealth Youth 1500m champion Kumari Taki qualified for the final of the 1500m race at the World Junior Championships at the Zawisza Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland, after winning Heat 2 in a time of 3:47:14.
Taki who won the Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia in a personal best time of 3:36:38 waded off competition from Serbia’s Elzan Bibic who came second in a time of 3:47:22 to also qualify for the semis.
Speaking after the race, Taki is confident of winning the junior title, building up on his youth conquest in Cali.
“The race was not easy because guys here are very tough. I have trained well and I feel I am in better shape than last year. I am focusing on being a junior champion as well. The guys here are a bit experienced. However, I feel good after winning my heat today after a long time out with injury. I feel I will be in a position to win a medal,” Taki said after the race.
Antony Kiptoo posted the second fastest qualifying time to qualify off Heat 1 after finishing second in 3:44:74 behind fastest qualifier Ayoub Sniba from Morocco who crossed the line in 3:44.59.
A total of 12 athletes will face off in the final on Thursday where Taki who has just graduated from the under-18 age group is expected to announce his arrival in the under-20 cadre in style.
In the girls’ 3,000m steeple chase, Betty Chepkemoi struck a personal best to qualify for the finals after coming second in Heat 1 with a time of 9:54:65, behind Bahrain’s Tigisti Tegnet who was a few micro-seconds ahead of her.
Ugandan Peruth Chemutai also qualified to the final after setting a national Ugandan U20 record, finishing fourth in this heat in 9:54:85.
Also qualifying alongside Chepkemoi is Celliphine Cheptoek who won Heat 2 in a time of 9:55:21, way ahead of Ethiopia’s Asimarech Naga who crossed the line in 10:05:71.
In the women’s 800m, Josephine Chelang’at led compatriot Betty Chempkemoi in qualifying for the semi finals with the two finishing second and first in their respective heats.
Chelang’at crossed the line second in Heat 2 behind Ethiopia’s Tigist Ketema in a fast heat, the Kenyan having clocked 2:05:69, two microseconds ahead of Ketema. Chepkemoi qualified off a rather slow Heat 5, winning it in 2:10:96.
Kenya’s hopes of a first medal will be on later on Tuesday night in the final of the men’s 10,000m when Rodgers Chumo and Ronald Kiprotich take to the track.