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Kericho athletes aim for gold at Team Kenya

Three Kericho world record holders are among the 57 athletes named to represent the Kenyan team at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary next month.

The World Athletics Championships will be held on August 19 and end on August 27, 2023.

Benard Kibet, Alex Ngeno and Beatrice Chebet were named as part of the selected team of athletes who made it to Team Kenya after the conclusion of the national Trials for World Athletics Championships held at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi on July 8 this year.

Kibet, who romped home third in the 8,000-metre men’s race at the National Trials with a personal best time of 6:55, will represent Kenya in the 10,000-meter men’s race during the World Athletics Championships games set to be held at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest.

The 23-year-old athlete is a world record holder in the 10-mile road race, a title he holds after he broke the seventeen-year record held by Haile Gebreselassie at the 39th edition of the Kumamoto Kosa 10-mile road race held last year on December 4 in Japan, clinching gold with a new course record time of 44:04.

The seasoned athlete who specialises in long-distance races won gold in the World Athletics Gold Label 10km race at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon held on February 11, 2023, in Iraq with a personal best time of 58:49.

In an interview with the gold medalist champion at Kericho Green Stadium during a training session of seasoned and upcoming Kericho athletes on Tuesday, Kibet expressed optimism that he will improve on his speed and clinch gold for Kenya.

“I will come with a gold medal from Budapest. Now I want to train for speed, and I know I will improve my speed. I am aiming for a personal best time of 26:50 in Budapest,” said Kibet.

Silver medalist at the 2018 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World U20 Championships, Alex Kipngetich Ngeno, came in second in the men’s 800m race at the National Trials with a personal best time of 1:44.22, clinching a slot in the team. The Kericho-based athlete will compete in the men’s 800 metre race at the World Athletics Championships.

Ngeno, 23, who bagged bronze in the men’s 800m indoor race at Meeting Mondeville 2023, a World Athletics Indoor Tour held in France on February 8 this year, with a personal best time of 1:44.57, said he is fired up to take up the challenge in Budapest and ensure that he delivers a podium finish.

“My target is to be among the top three and I am going to work hard to make it to the podium and I want to achieve a personal best time of 1:43.00,” said Ngeno.

The team will report to the residential training camp on July 12. The Kericho-based athletes train under Coach Gabriel Kiptanui, who doubles up as Athletics Kenya’s (AK) First Vice Chairman for the Kericho branch.

Speaking to KNA, coach Kiptanui said Beatrice Chebet is the only female athlete who qualified for the team from Kericho and was optimistic that she will bring home gold.

“I am positive that Beatrice will continue posting excellent results at the World Athletics Championships in Hungary. She has great potential and is talented in her track discipline. Beatrice will represent Kenya in the women’s 5,000 m race. Beatrice is a long-distance runner; she bagged gold in the Commonwealth, African and Diamond League championships and won gold again in the women’s senior race at the 2023 World Cross Country Championships held in Australia in February, “said Kiptanui.

Kiptanui trains more than 25 athletes. He said the region has great potential for producing great runners, with many having brought home medals after competing in world athletic championships.

Currently, we are training to ensure that when they all report to the training camp, they are in good shape,” said Kiptanui.

Athletics Kenya (AK) named the squad of 32 women and 25 men after the conclusion of national trials on Saturday at Nyayo Stadium.

By Sarah Njagi