Kibet, Kiplang’at aim retain host nation’s dominance in 5,000m
Amos Abuga and Vincent Voiyoh
Levi Kibet and Benson Kiplangat will lead Kenya’s medal hunt in Day Two of the World Athletics Under-20 Athletics Championships at the Kasarani Stadium today.
The duo will be seeking to defend the pride of Kenya in the 5,000m men’s final at 4.30pm.
Kibet, 17, has a personal best of 13:39.58 after finishing first during the national trials in July at the same venue.
Nandi-based Kibet is expected to team up well with compatriot Benson Kiplang’at to bring home the gold medal that was won by Edward Zakayo in the previous edition in Tampere, Finland, three years ago.
The Form Three student at Kosirai High School in Nandi County is upbeat ahead of the final this afternoon.
“I have prepared well. Our coaches have given us everything that we need in order to win. We have worked on speed and also long runs.
It is a dream come true to represent my country at these championships and am hoping for the best,” said Kibet who also longs to improve his school’s World Under- 20 record in 5,000m.
“I keep preparing each day. For my school, I want to follow in the footsteps of Mathew Kisorio who won silver at the Under-20 championships in Poland in 2008. I want to win gold for Kenya and my school.”
Fireworks are expected between the homeboys and bitter rivals Ethiopia.
Eighteen-year-old Addisu Yihune will be on the starting list as one of the favourites having missed an Olympic ticket by a whisker in qualifiers in Hengelo, Netherlands, two months ago despite getting a PB of 12:58.99.
He will surely race to prove a point to the world and his compatriots in Ethiopia.
Eritrea’s Habtom Keleta could also spoil the party for Kenya. He has the second best time in that final group after clocking 13:23.15 also in Hengelo last June.
Another tussle is expected in the women 3,000m final.
Kenya’s Zenah Jemutai and Teresiah Muthoni will be hoping for a podium finish against 16-year-old Melkanat Wudu from Ethiopia and Uganda’s Prisca Chesang.
This is an event Kenya has not won a gold medal since the 2012 edition of the games in Barcelona, Spain.
After being delayed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fireworks soared above Kasarani Stadium on Tuesday night signaling the official kick off of the championships.
Athletes from more than 100 countries marched at the blue synthetic track and in front of Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who is also the patron of the world junior event.
Being a spectator-free event, there were no lively scenes witnessed during the World Under-18 Championships four years ago due to the pandemic.
“Over the next few days devoted fans across the globe look forward to watching exciting track and field events. To the athletes your dedicated training, practice and participation in this championships presents you with an opportunity to pursue your dreams,” said the Firs Lady.
The First Lady urged foreigners to sample Kenya’s rich natural heritage besides the championships.