As the world gears up for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Kenyan runners have sent out early indications of what the world should expect at the Olympics. Faith Kipyegon set a new Kenya record in the 1500m with a time of 3:56.82. Kipyegon who set a new Africa mile record in 2015 and won the silver medal at the world championships, took the lead with 500m to go and continued to increase her lead, finishing well ahead of the field.
Hellen Obiri, who missed 2015 while on maternity leave, has made a strong comeback and finished second in 3:59.34 and Dawit Seyaum of Wthiopia was third in 3:59.87.
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, world champion Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi picked up from where she left off in 2015, winning the race in a personal best time of 9:07.42. This is the 6th fastest time ever run and the 3rd fastest ever by a Kenyan behind Milcah Chemos and Eunice Jepkorir.
Fellow Kenyan Ruth Jebet, now running for Bahrain was second in 9:15.48, a good eight seconds behind Kiyeng. Sofia Assefa was third while Virginia Nganga of Kenya was fourth. Jebet set a torrid pace and looked like she would take the race. At the bell she was 10 metres ahead of Kiyeng. But she ran out of gas and Kiyeng shifted gears in the last lap to pass Jebet who finished second despite stumbling and falling on one of the hurdles.
In the men’s 800m , Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot won in 1:45.68. Pre-race favourite David Rudisha finished a disappointing 6th in 1:46.24. He may have been affected by the confusion at the start of the race. Half the runners did not react to the starting gun including Rudisha. Still Rudisha took the lead at the 200m mark and led until the 600m mark when Rotich passed him.
Twenty year old Robert Biwott was second in 1:45.84. Kenya has had a drought of 800m runners and the youthful Biwott could be the man to take over the mantle of Kenya’s hopes in future meets. This is especially if he chooses to focus on the 800m which is clearly his better race. Last year he mostly ran in the 1500m, a race he has less hope of excelling in given the presence of Asbel Kiprop, Elijah Manangoi and others.
World 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett, hard pressed to prove he is not a one hit wonder, finished 6th in the race with a time of 49.31. Michael Tinsley of the USA won the race in 48.90. Another Kenyan in the race, Boniface Tumuti was 9th in 50.16
In the men’s 5000m, Kenya’s Thomas Longosiwa was third in 13:01.69. The race was on by Mukhtar Edris of Ethiopia in 12:59.96. Edwin Soi was the next Kenyan and was in 6th place at the finish line.
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