Africa high jump champion Mathew Sawe has set his eyes on achieving a new height of 2.34m when he features for the Athletics Kenya (AK) National Championship which will double as a qualifier to the Africa Senior Athletics Championships set for Nigeria in August.
The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officer yesterday broke his own record of 2.25m set in 2015, thrice, to set a new distance of 2.30m during the KDF athletics championship concluding today at Kasarani Stadium.
The 29-year-old first cleared a 2.26m hurdle before going past a 2.28 and finally adding two more centimetres to clinch gold ahead of Asbel Kiprop who managed 2.12m for second place and Amos Kipsaina completed the podium positions with two-metre high jump.
“I started my training, with a mind set on breaking the record, in November last year. I had targeted the Commonwealth Games in April to be my execution ground but something did not work in Gold Coast so my coach and I went back to the drawing board and worked on a few technical issues and I am glad things are working now,” says Sawe.
The Thika-based army man who has been training in France competed under the watchful eyes of his French coach Moussa Fall.
Sawe is confident that he will be in Nigeria to defend his African title and consequently book a slot in the African team to the IAAF Continental Cup (2018 IAAF World Cup)
“My focus right now is keeping the pace when we compete in the national championship after which I will return to Paris for training. I am also scheduled to feature in a world meeting before the Africa championship,” an elated Sawe said.
Another multiple African champion Grace Wanjiru who added to her KDF titles in the walking race after clinching gold in 1:30.40 ahead of Emily Ngii and Susan Koskei has set her target on making the African team to the World Cup.
“I am training hard for the national championship as I intend to be in Nigeria to defend my continental title. Only Ethiopians pose a danger but I will do my best to qualify for the World Cup and bring a medal home,” Wanjiru said. Fireworks are expected today as more athletes battle for national championship slots.
In men’s 3,000m Steeplechase former World Champion Abel Mutai will fight for one of the six qualification slots against eleven other athletes who qualified for the finals yesterday.