NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Since its inaugural edition in Bydgoszcz 1999, Kenya has dominated the Boys 3000m and this year’s youngsters Stanley Waithaka and Edward Zakayo have vowed to see the nation retain the title on Sunday when curtains in the IAAF World U18 Championships come down.
The two Kenyans automatically qualified for the finals after running a fantastic race on Thursday with Zakayo leading from start to finish to win the second semi in 8:04.85 while Waithaka sailed through in second place in a fastest time of 7:59.54 in the first semi.
Kenya has only missed the gold twice, in 2005 when Bernard Muinde finished seventh and in the unforgettable 2013 when Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha condemned the Kenyan duo of Vedic Kipkoech and Alexander Mutiso to silver and bronze respectively.
However, on form Waithaka and Zakayo have confidence that come on Sunday the two Ethiopians; Selemon Barega and Milkesa Mengesha will see dust.
Waithaka, who has a Personal Best of 7:56.0 finished second behind Ethiopian Selemon who controlled the race from start to finish, winning in a Personal Best of 7:55.73.
“There is no pressure though the race was tough. I just wanted to get into the final and the way I have ran I will make it in the final. I had the capability of winning the race but I decided to run behind the Ethiopian to study the race,” Waithaka, who was inspired by her sister to run, said after the race.
With their Girls counterparts settling for silver on the opening day courtesy of Emmaculate Chepkirui, Waithaka said they will make it up with a 1-2 finish.
“The gold and silver is for Kenya, that is a sure bet. I will improve on my last lap especially in the last curve. I want to venture into 5000m when I graduate to seniors and bring back the gold that has been going to Britain,” The Form Four Student from Ndaragua asserted.
On the other hand, Zakayo, a Form Three student from Kapsait Secondary School, says their strategy as Team Kenya in the Boys 3000m race is to start the race with a high pace to burn the Ethiopians .
“I decided to open up from start because if you delay the Ethiopians will defeat you in the final kick so at 800m, I decided to kick. I have been preparing for this competition since last year so I am seeing Team Kenya winning silver and gold. I told Waithaka to just be number two and that’s what he did,” Zakayo, born in Narok but hails from Elgeyo Marakwet told Capital Sports.
“We have a strategy for the final where I have agreed with Waithaka he start from the front and take the pace fast for us to win both gold and silver.”
Kenya has managed to win 1-2 in 2007, 2009, 2011and in the last edition in 2015 when Richard Yator led Davis Kiplagat to the podium.
Wiliam Malel is the current World Record holder in a time of 7:40.10 that he set in Lille, France in 2011.
-Other results of Day 2-
In other results held in Day 2, both Kenyan Girls qualified for the 800m semis to run on Friday.
Lydia Jeruto opened the way in the first Heat, crossing the line in 2:10.37 ahead of Chaimae Ismaili of Morocco (2:13.15) while Romania’s Andrea-Raissa Hojda (2:14.42) was the last automatic qualifier.
The third Heat was even more interesting when Jackline Wambui electrified the Kasarani Stadium to win 2:08.24, the fastest race of the Four Heats. Second was Hirut Meshesha from Ethiopis in 2:09.74 while Klara Lukan from Slovakia also sailed through in third place (2:11.66).
Being the quickest race, the Heat produced the two fastest losers in Tugba Toptas from Turkey and Relaska Dauti from Albania.
It was a bad outing for the sprinters that will see Kenya have no representative in the Girls Hurdles with Leah Jeruto finishing third in a Personal Best of 1:01.11while Irene Akinyi trailed her Heat to finish in 1:04.31.