•The World under-20 athletics pre-trials by Athletics Kenya unearthed several youngsters with world-class potential
•Fourteen-year old Purity Chepkirui produced a stunning performance in 1500m to emerge victorious
•The two-day event is the first of a selection process for next year's World Athletics under-20 Championship team
Athletics fans were treated to scintillating races as the process to select Kenya’s representatives to next year’s World Athletics Under-20 Championship in Nairobi kicked off at Nyayo Stadium on Friday.
The World Under-20 athletics pre-trials by Athletics Kenya unearthed several youngsters with world-class potential, among them Purity Chepkirui who produced a lung-bursting run to secure first place in 1,500m.
“I had made up my mind before the race that I would start off at a high tempo without looking back. I have long wanted to make the final team and this victory is the start of the realisation of that dream,” the 14-year-old from Kuresoi South constituency said.
Chepkirui clocked 4:15.8 to cross the finish line in her heat - far ahead of her nearest challenger, Winnie Jemtai, who clocked 4:28.1. She looks up to Faith Kipyegon and aspires to reach similar heights in her athletics profession.
“I admire Faith because we share similar attributes in terms of our running styles. My ultimate aim at the moment is to make the final team and then earn a gold medal at the global stage,” she said.
The trials have been necessitated by the fact that most of the athletes who were previously selected to represent Kenya in the rescheduled youth championships became ineligible due to their age.
The World Athletics Under-20 Championships were originally scheduled for July this year before they were postponed due to Covid-19.
WA stipulates that competitors in this competition must be aged 19 years or younger as at December of the year of competition.
The trials for a new batch of representatives began early Friday morning with the 10km walking race for men and women. They were later followed by the 5000m heats for men and women.
Victor Kimtai of Kericho produced a virtuoso performance in the last lap of Heat 2 of 5000m men to emerge victorious ahead of Reuben Mosin and Felix Korir of Eastern and North Rift respectively.
In the men’s 3000m qualifying round, Edwin Kisaisak of Kericho emerged tops in a neck-to-neck race.
“When the race began, that is when I knew that other competitors were equally strong. I have won but it was not easy. It shows that I will have to work hard to improve on this,” he said.
In the women’s 5000m qualifying race, Cynthia Chepn'geno staged a comeback in the last lap to cross the finish line ahead of other runners in her heat.
“I have been working hard and I knew that I could get a good result. So even when I was trailing the others I never panicked but kept my feet on the gas,” the Keringet native said.
In the field events, Zeddy Chesire of Nandi beat a strong field of nine to emerge top in the long jump category.
She was closely trailed by Martha Nyabuto of Kisii who recorded 5.18m compared to her high score of 5.42m.
The event continues tomorrow with more events providing athletes with an opportunity to present a strong case for their inclusion in the final team.
They include 3000m steeplechase, 100m hurdles and hammer.