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Kasait blisters Police athletes as Chepkoech stars

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Lilian Kasait leads in final lap 5000m.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 -Guest runner Lilian Kasait tore the field apart to win the 5,000m race at the National Police Service Championships in Nairobi on Thursday, crossing the finish line in 15:36.3  ahead of world 3,000m steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng (15:51.1).

The 2017 World Cross Country bronze medalist said she decided to grace the Police Championships due to its competitive nature as she prepares for the Nationals later next month from where the Kenyan team to the IAAF World Athletics Championship in London will be selected.

“It was a very tough race and I am pleased with my performance. I wanted to come and test myself because Police is usually the toughest championship. I wanted to gauge my body’s response and see how far I have come in terms of preparations ahead of the World championships,” Kasait told Capital Sport after the race.

She took on a commanding pace, showing that her body had picked up form, having started the season early because of the World Cross Country Championships held in Kampala in March.

Kasait who celebrated her 20th birthday two weeks ago, ran her own race opening up a gap of almost 200m ahead of second placed Kiyeng. She opened the after burners in the last lap, widening an even bigger gap towards crossing the line.

Lilian Kasait leading 5000m women race.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Kasait will now switch her preparations for the National Trials and she remains confident of clinching a ticket to London where she hopes to earn Kenya a medal after missing out in the last Championships held in Beijing.

“If I get the ticket to London, my hope is that I will go there and do my best. I want to get a medal and I will continue preparing hard for that,” the 2013 World Youth 3,000m champion said.

“To me this was more of training because I wanted to build my endurance as well as representing my Police Unit. I am happy with the result because 5,000m is tough. I am also pleased with how my body is responding,” Kiyeng said.

The World 3,000m steeplechase champion also started the season early having made it into the Kenyan team for the World Cross Country Championships where she finished fourth.

-Chepkoech starring-

Beatrice Chepkoech winning 1500m race.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Meanwhile, another World Cross team member Beatrice Chepkoech who was part of the inaugural mixed relay team that won gold was the toast of the three-day Police Championship, winning two titles within a space of 24 hours.

After winning the 3,000m steeplechase race on Wednesday, Chepkoech returned to the track on Thursday to command the 1500m race winning by a four-second margin over second placed Winfred Mbithe with whom she ran with in Kampala.

Chepkoech crossed the finish line in 4:06.5 ahead of Mbithe who clocked 4:10.0. However, she says her biggest focus is on the steeplechase, having finished fourth at the Rio Olympics last August.

“My body is quite in shape and I am pleased because running two very tough races in two days and winning both is no joke. I am looking forward to the National Trials and all I am targeting now is to get to that team,” Chepkoech said.

“It was specifically hard because I was sick from last week and my first training was during the qualifying races on Tuesday. With those circumstances and going on to win, I am very pleased,” she added.

World Silver medallist Elijah Manangoi celebrating after winning the 800m race.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

In other races on the final day of the championship, 2015 World 1500m silver medalist Elijah Manang’oi downscaled to the 800m race, winning in 1:44.8. His younger brother George also participated in the 1500m race, finishing third in a Personal best time of 3:40.50.

“I have started my season very well and today’s race was just about testing my endurance and the finishing kick. I think I am 98 percent okay especially after the injury in Rio,” Manang’oi who won the season opening IAAF Diamond League race in Doha, Qatar stated.

In the short races, the form books were upset with Frasha Mwangi toppling experienced Millicent Ndoro to first position in the 100m, finishing in a time of 11.18 with Ndoro clocking 12.10 at second place.

In the corresponding men’s race, Peter Mwai from the Kenya Police College shocked pre-race favorite Brian Gatura from the General Service Unit to win in a time of 10.1 while Gatura placed second in 10.3.

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