James Magayi @magayijim
A thrilling showdown in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase is looming at Kasarani tomorrow when athletes gun off in search of tickets to Gold Coast, Australia for the 21st Commonwealth Games slated for April.
An incredible trio of Hyvin Kiyeng, Celiphine Chespol and Beatrice Chepkoech headline the 16-person start-list that also includes Caroline Tuigong and Daisy Chepkemei.
Up for grabs are a meager three tickets to Australia and the athletes who spent most of last year sizing one another are likely to go all out in what promises to be the race of the day.
Athletics Kenya (AK) will select 60 athletes during the trials having already drafted six marathoners. The federation will stick to its no wild card rule and pick athletes based on their performance.
The rich steeplechase field provides AK with a welcome headache but several hugely talented athletes will be left to rue missed opportunities. Kiyeng won gold at the IAAF World Championships in 2015 before falling behind Bahraini Ruth Jebet to settle for silver in Rio Olympics a year later.
Fate relegated the 26-year-old to bronze in last year’s Worlds when she missed a turn very late in the race, leaving American duo of Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs to seal a rare 1-2 finish in the women’s steeplechase.
The Kenya Defense Forces athlete is, however, favorite in tomorrow’s trials owing to her vast experience.
After struggling to regain her 2015/16 form, Kiyeng is keen on rediscovering her golden touch when the Club Games come calling.
Eighteen year-old Chespol equally produced a jaw-dropping 8:58.78 in Eugene, USA last year, rattling the race leading lights with the performance, which was just six seconds shy of the world record.
She however, eventually failed to maintain the momentum. She seems capable of upsetting the order in Kenya and is keen to make the team to Gold Coast.
Athletes’ apathy for Common- wealth Games has seen the withdrawal of 5,000m sensation Helen Obiri. Another group of athletes could be locked out on a technicality having missed the deadline for accreditation.
National Cross Country champion Stacy Ndiwa and former World silver medallist in 1,500m Thomas Longosiwa are crossing fingers as AK through the National Olympic Committee plead with Commonwealth Games organisers to consider a number of late requests.