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Bett, Rono seal Team Kenya slots for Nigeria

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Vincent Rono celebrates after winning the 10,000m race at the Athletics Kenya trials for the Africa Senior Athletics Championship on June 22, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, KENYA, Jun 22- Josphat Bett, the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver and hugely unknown Vincent Rono have booked slots into the Kenyan team for the African Senior Athletics Championship to be held in Nigeria in August after claiming the top two slots in the 10,000m final at the Athletics Kenya (AK) trials on Friday.

Rono whose only appearance for Kenya was in last year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championship in Kampala won the race comfortably in 28 minutes, 17.20 seconds while the decorated Bett came second in a time of 28 minutes, 24.85 seconds.

“It was a very tough race because first it was delayed and we had to run at 11am and the sun was too much for us. Most of the time, 10k is run early in the morning and those conditions were very tough. However, my only focus was to get into the team and I am glad I achieved that,” Rono said after crossing the finish line.

His only opportunity to don the red, green and black Team Kenya jersey was at last year’s IAAF World Cross in Kampala where he finished seventh in the senior race clocking 27 minutes.

In the midst of a packed field with almost 35 athletes starting, Rono kept within the leading group for most of the race.

Jonathan Ndiku, the 2014 Commonwealth Games 3,000m champion had been sticking at the front for a good part of the race but after 10 laps, he started fading off. He was forced out with nine laps left after tripping and falling in the midst of a chasing pack.

At this point, the wheat had been separated from the chaff, the leading pack of almost 10 athletes forming a single file.

Vincent Rono leads the 10,000m race at the Athletics Kenya trials for the Africa Senior Athletics Championship on June 22, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Nonetheless with five laps to go, the men pruned themselves off the race with Rono, Bett, Kipsang Temoi and Kennedy Kimegor leading the pack.

With two laps to go, it was earth clear who the winner would be with Rono bolting upfront opening a gap of almost 80m to Bett. Rono managed to run in steady pace with bett following at second place.

Kimegor fell off to sixth spot with Temoi coming home in third while Stephen Arita zoomed past Peter Kiprtotich at the home stretch to finish fourth.

“I want to work hard to make this chance count. It is only my second time to represent Kenya and I want to do my best,” the 28-year old who placed ninth at the Ras Al Khaima Half Marathon earlier this year said.

Athletics Kenya will decide on who to hand the wild card for the third spot with two-time World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor a prospective candidate.

2015 World 400m Hurdles Champion Nicholas Bett cruises to victory at the Athletics Kenya trials for the Africa Senior Athletics Championship on June 22, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

At the same time, Bett who will be participating at the African Championship for a second time after clinching bronze in the 2014 edition in Marrakech, Morocco hopes he can improve the color of his medal when he lines up in Lagos.

“I think I am ready because I feel my body is in great shape. I only want to go back to training and improve a bit on my speed work in the final lap because my endurance is quite okay. I want to go and win that gold medal,” a confident Bett said.

Bett has a huge amount of experience tucked under his belt having won the gold medal at the 2008 World Junior Championship in Poland and also made it to the Kenyan team for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

“I didn’t do well in Australia and I was a bit disappointed. I want to go to Nigeria and make amends,” he further added.

The three-day trials will come to a conclusion on Saturday where most of the finals will go down. The likes of Nicholas Bett and his elder brother Harun Koech made easy work of their 400m Hurdles heats to progress to the finals.

Alphas Kishoyian and Collins Omae also made it to the final of the 400m which will also see 800m runner Emmanuel Korir compete after finishing second behind Kishoyian in their heat.

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