Here is an elaborate preview of all the events that will take place at the Kenyan national trials this weekend that will be used to select a team going out to two different championships. The world championships will take place in Oregon from 15th July to 24th and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will occur from 28th July to 8th August.
One national team will be selected to go to both the World Athletics and the Commonwealth Games championships since both teams need the best to attend their championships, except for the athletes who meet the qualification for one event and not the other. This was revealed by Barnaba Korir, Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch chairman, in a live Facebook interview as he elaborated on Athletics Kenya’s selection criteria for World Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games
Despite the huge interest of late by Kenyan runners in the sprint events, it is only the fastest man in Africa – Ferdinand Omanyala - who has the World Athletics qualification time of under 10.05 seconds in the 100m event. However, he will compete with other contestants for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games slots. Maximila Imali who holds the women’s 100m national record of 11.26 will be the big name to watch in the women’s 100m and 200m races.
Mike Mokamba and Samuel Imeta who were part of the Kenyan 4 x100m relay team that won gold at the African Senior Athletics Championships in a new national record of 39.28 will be the other two men to watch out for in the sprints.
800m Olympic Champion, Emmanuel Korir will not be carrying all his eggs in one basket as he will also be trying his luck in the men’s 400m.
The other athlete with a qualifying time in the sprints is US-based Moitalel Mpoke Naadokila who has a time of 48.84 in the men’s 400mH.
The 800m, 1500m, and 3000m Steeplechase events have usually been Kenya’s medal strong-holds in major championships, and it shows in the number of qualified athletes and the loaded fields for the national trials in Kasarani.
While the question in other events and distance is on who will make the team, here, it is more on who will not make it.
World and defending champion, Ferguson Rotich; reigning Olympic Champion, Emmanuel Korir; reigning world U20 champion; Emmanuel Wanyonyi; World Indoor silver medalist, Noah Kibet; Commonwealth Games champion, Wycliffe Kinyamal, and the African indoor record-holder are all in the men’s 800m race. Only the first two to cross the finish line will get automatic qualifications.
On the women’s side, eyes will be on the newly crowned African champion, Jarinter Mawia; Rabat Diamond league winner, Mary Moraa and Faith Kipyegon who many speculate could be doing both the 800m and 1500m at the world championships in Oregon. Naomi Korir will also be another runner to watch out for in this race having missed the qualification time at the Kip Keino classic event by a fraction of a second.
There is one runner who is going to be a great obstacle to the Kenyan men winning a gold medal in the men’s 1500m race in Oregon, and that is Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen. So far, the world-leading time this year is from Abel Kipsang who will be hoping to join the defending champion, Timothy Cheruiyot by making the team this weekend.
Fortunately, with Cheruiyot as the defending champion, there will be two more slots available for those who will impress the selectors at the Kenyan trials that will happen at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani stadium. Those already with qualifying times and the opportunity to get added to the team include Bethwel Birgen, Kumari Taki, Charles Simotwo, and Ronald Kwemoi.
Similarly, Kipyegon is the defending champion on the women’s side and will create room for an extra runner as three other runners will join her after the Kenyan trials. Winnie Chebet, Ednah Jebitok, and Judy Kiyeng already meet the qualification times here, but the youngster Purity Chepkurui will be worth watching out for as well.
Eight women in the 3000m steeplechase event already meet the qualification time for the World Championships of under 9:30.00. Beatrice Chepkoech stands a chance to get a wild card for being the 2019 Doha world defending champion. Other top names on the start list include Cellipine Chespol, Purity Kirui, Fancy Cherono, and Faith Cherotich. Despite being on the start list, Hyvin Kiyeng has not been in action for a while and there is information doing rounds that she could be moving away from track running to the roads.
The onus to restore Kenya’s dominance in the men’s 3000m steeplechase will rest on a team that will come out after a duel amongst the defending champion, Conseslus Kipruto; World U20 champion Amos Serem; Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist, Benjamin Kigen and Commonwealth Games champion; Abraham Kibiwot, among others.
After the spectacular run by Nicholas Kimeli and Jacob Krop at the Rome Diamond League meeting to register the two fastest times this year for the men’s 5000m event, Kenyans will be hoping the two will make the team to Oregon. The two runners who will be toeing the start line at the Kenyan trials at the first event on Friday registered their personal best times of 12:46.33 and 12:46.79 respectively. Others to watch out for here will include Daniel Simiyu, Samuel Chebolei, Edward Zakayo and Bernard Kibet.
Women 5000m defending champion, Hellen Obiri’s name appears in both the women’s 5000m and the 10,000m start lists and is not yet clear what distance she will be doing at the Kenyan trials. Other big names aiming to make the world athletics championships-bound team in the 5000m event will include Eva Cherono, Beatrice Chebet, Loic Chemnung, Mercy Cherono, and Daisy Cherotich.
The men’s 10,000m has Kibiwot Kandie, Rodgers Kwemoi, Daniel Mateiko, Stanley Waithaka and Chebolei as some of the big stars to watch out for.
The women's 10,000m field is loaded. There are Margaret Chelimo, Irine Cheptai, Irine Kimais, Sheila Chepkirui, Gloria Kite, Viola Lagat, and Fancy Chemutai, among others contesting for three slots available to make the team.
Below is the program for the two-day event: