James Magayi @magayijim
Two-time World Junior Cross Country Champion Pauline Korikwiang became the first track star to book her place in the Kenya team headed to CAA Africa Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria next month.
The 30-year-old narrowly trounced continental defending champion Alice Aprot in a pulsating 10,000m women race held on the first day of Athletics Kenya trials at Kasarani yesterday. She posted a fairly fast 31:51.1 for first place while Aprot settled for second place eight seconds behind.
Enterprising junior Sandrafelis Chebet finished third in 32:16.5 but will wait to find out if she makes the trip to West Africa or not as Athletics Kenya could only guarantee the top two finishers a place in the team.
The more than dozen athletes in the race took off slowly covering the first 1,200m in 4:09.10 crowded together before pace picked up steadily and separation began.
Chebet, a favourite of front running took to the fore and led over the ensuing four laps.
The thinning, leading pack crossed 2,400m mark in 7:54.66 with Chebet and Aprot shoulder to shoulder with six athletes closely behind. Aprot who won the African Championship race two years ago in Durban, South Africa then assumed control into the halfway mark.
The field was separated well enough by the 6,000m point with probable podium finishers clearly upfront as the rest of chasing pack struggled with the increasing pace. Korikwiang who also favours road running then moved upfront and led into the last 1,000m as Aprot laboured behind.
In the end, Korikwiang whose last big victory came in 2015 World Military Games 5,000m two years ago emphatically widened the gap between her and the tiring Aprot to take victory. “The goal is usually to get a significant medal in championships but it is so difficult to make the team in Kenya. You have to be in very good form and I am happy that it has worked out for me today. I am going to keep training hard and just go for gold in Asaba.