Kenya keen to set pace with early medals as World Championships begin
By Keith McGhie in Doha
The 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships begin in Doha today and by the early hours of tomorrow morning Kenya have high hopes of leading the fledgling medal table.
The first medals will be handed out after a ground-breaking women’s marathon which starts at one minute to midnight to avoid the worst of the searing heat which can reach close to 50 degrees during the day in the Qatar capital.
Ruth Chepn’getich will hope that the destination of the gold is decided by the form book as the 25-year old from the Rift Valley is over two and a half minutes quicker over the 42.195 kilometre (26-miles 385 yards) distance than any of her rivals this year.
Three Ethiopians Ruti Aga, Rosa Dereje and Shure Demise provide possibly the stiffest challenge to the 2019 Dubai Marathon winner, although team-mates Visiline Jepkesho and Edna Kiplagat (pictured), now 39 and chasing a hat-trick of titles, will also endeavour to be in the frame over a floodlit course which consists of multiple laps along the city’s famous Corniche waterfront.
Chepn’getcih’s time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 8 seconds was the third fastest in history behind World Record holder Paula Radcliffe (2:15.25) and compatriot Mary Keitany (2:17.01) and the next closest to her in the 70 strong field is Kenyan born Israeli Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, who clocked a personal best 2:19.46 when winning the Prague Marathon in May.
Kenya team manager Joseph Kiget says the the national squad, now consisting of 48 athletes (26 men and 22 women), are well positioned to bring home another sizeable haul of medals from 49 events that comprise the Doha Championships.
“My athletes are all in good shape to challenge,” Kiget said confidently.
Kenya finished the last edition of the championships in London in 2017 second in the medal table behind the USA with five gold, two silver and four bronze for their efforts, after famously topping the chart two years earlier in Beijing ahead of both the American and Jamaican teams.
Today’s action also includes heats of the Mens 100m and 400m Hurdles and qualifying in Mens Long and Triple Jump, plus women’s Hammer and High Jump.
World record holder and undisputed global number one Beatrice Chepkoech begins her quest for 3,000m Steeplechase gold with the heats at around 7pm, while 2013 Champion Eunice Sum is also in action, looking to progress to the semi-finals in the Womens’ 800m, in heats which commence at 5.10pm.