Athletics Kenya (AK) will Saturday conclude the task of selecting athletes to represent the country in 21st edition of Commonwealth Games slated for Gold Coast, Australia from April 4-15. A total of 60 athletes will be picked in today’s trials at Kasarani to link up with six marathoners already in camp to fill the quota of 66 track and field slots allocated Kenya in the Club Games.
The federation called up 250 athletes to the trials with the aim of selecting two or three athletes for each discipline on show depending on strength and medal prospects. The invitation only trials guns off at 7am Saturday with selected athletes at the end of day expected to join camp next week.
Kenya topped the Athletics table in the last edition of Commonwealth Games by clinching 10 gold medals, 10 silvers and three bronze. Selected athletes are tasked with bettering the performance posted four years ago but a number of high profile names have opted out of the games.
Women 3,000m steeplechase gold medalist Purity Kirui experienced a subdued season last year and faces a formidable task of retaining her crown. Her main challengers will attempt to cripple her at the Kenyan trials where bronze medalist Joan Kipkemoi will also be fighting for a lifeline.
An incredible trio of Hyvin Kiyeng, Celiphine Chespol and Beatrice Chepkoech headline the sixteen-person start-list that also includes Caroline Tuigong and budding Daisy Chepkemei, with Commonwealth medalists from four years ago remaining in the shadows.
The men’s 1,500m also promises thrilling scenes as golden brothers George and Elijah Manangoi duel for a place in team Kenya. George is the U18 world champion while Elijah won the IAAF World Championships in London last year.
The siblings will face challenge from indefatigable Ronald Kwemoi who won silver four years ago behind James Magut. World silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot and youngster Kumari Taki are also angling for the Gold Coast tickets.
Olympic gold medalist and World Champion in 3,000m Steeplechase Conseslus Kipruto is the man to beat as he bids to kick start his season with another golden medal in Australia. Kipruto will vie for steeplechase tickets with former world youth champion Amos Kirui and resilient Abraham Kibiwott among others.
A cabal of young and ambitious two lap runners are angling for the 800m slots in a race that world record holder David Rudisha lost to Botswana’s Nijel Amos four years ago. Diamond League specialist Ferguson Rotich leads fast rising Kipyegon Bett, Job Kinyor and Alfred Kipketer in the chase for team slots.
Others in this race are Timothy Sein and Willy Tarbei. Former Africa Cross Country bronze medalist Yosei Mneria will stake his claim in 10,000m men as will Commonwealth Games silver medalist Josphat Bett and Japan-based Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui. Seasoned runners Moses Arita and William Malel Sitonik will also be in the starting line alongside resurgent Jonathan Ndiku.