Kenya could win its first gold medal today when Dominic Kipkemboi and George Manang’oi take to the track in the boys’ 1,500m race set to gun off at 6.16pm at Kasarani Stadium as the IAAF World U18 Championships enters the third day.
Kipkemboi led from gun to tape to win his heat in 3:48.77 just 0.16 ahead of Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad and qualify for the finals as the fastest qualifier despite limping his way to the finish on Wednesday while Manangoi won the second heat in 3:55.00, ahead of Ethiopia’s Mekonen Belete, who clocked 3:56.31.
As the two seek to repeat the feat of Kumari Taki, who picked gold in the last edition in Cali, Colombia, in 2015, they will be wary of Ethiopian duo of Belete and Abebe Dessassa, who finished third in heat one, as well as Cherrad who could spoil their chances of clinching gold and silver just like Assefa Mulugeta did for Taki and Lawi Kosgei two years ago.
“Besides the stiff competition I expect from Kipkemboi and the others especially the Ethiopians, I am going for gold. I was unfit for the trials but I feel good now and ready for glory,” said Manang’oi who boasts a Personal Best of 3:44.4.
In another final that Kenya hopes for gold, Caren Chebet, 17, and Mercy Chepkurui, 16, are seeking to replicate Celliphine Chespol and Sandrafelis Chebet’s performance who bagged gold and silver respectively in the ninth edition in the 2,000m.
The two will be in action in today’s penultimate event at 6.35pm with Kenyans hoping that their male counterparts Leonard Kipkemboi and Cleopha Kandie will have qualified for the finals by that time as the boy’s 2,000m heats are scheduled at 10am.
Triple Jump boys’ finalist Vincent Kilel will be in action at 5.05pm as he attempts to upstage 11 other competitors on his maiden appearance at the global stage while the 800m girls’ duo of Jackline Wambui and Lydia Jeruto, having qualified for the semis after clocking 2:08.24 and 2:10.37 in the heats, will be vying for a finals slot at 5.10pm.
Sensational sprinter Mary Moraa will also be out to qualify for the 200m at 10.40am and later battle for gold in the 400m finals at 6.55pm as Philemon Mopia hopes to clinch a semi-final ticket in the boys’ 200m.