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Kericho athletes optimistic of winning this season

Last year began with a lot of uncertainties and disappointments for many athletes as the coronavirus pandemic forced cancellations and postponements of many competitions including the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Africa Athletics Championships but expectations for impressive performances are evident this year for many seasoned and upcoming athletes in Kericho.

On the right Kericho based coach Gabriel Kiptanui having a word with 2019 800metres World U20 Silver medalist in Tampere, Finland Kipngetich Ngeno after a training session at Gariete Athletics Training camp in Kericho. Photo by Sarah Njagi

Major events to watch out in 2022 include 18th edition of the World Athletics Championships scheduled to be held in Eugene, Oregon, United States from July 15 to 24 and the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August.

In an interview with KNA during a training session at Gariete Athletics Training camp in Kericho, Athletics Kenya (AK) First Vice Chairman Kericho branch Gabriel Kiptanui said a good number of athletes in the county had to face cancellations and postponements from both local and international games but was optimistic for a stable season this year.

“We are optimistic that trainings which began early this year for seasoned and upcoming athletes in Kericho will guarantee exceptional performance. They are now preparing well for upcoming sports events in the country as well as internationally,” said coach Kiptanui.

He added that the National Cross-country Championships that were held on 22 January at Kapseret Eldoret ten athletes from his camp represented Kericho and the team emerged winners in the South Rift category and three athletes represented the County at the Agnes Tirop Memorial World Cross Country tour on February 12.

“The team is dedicated and disciplined in their trainings and they posted encouraging personal best times and led in the South Rift Region.  I am positive they will continue posting excellent results from their various disciplines in the Agnes Tirop Memorial World Cross country event. There are a good number of athletes who are preparing for the World Athletics Championships as well as Commonwealth Games,” said coach Kiptanui.

He revealed that a section of athletes from his training camp will be competing in the AK Kenya weekend second meeting to be held in Bondo, Siaya on February 19 and in April where Kericho County will be hosting the Regional South Championship Games.

Kiptanui who doubles up as an athletics coach and trains more than 50 athletes said the region has great potential for producing great runners with many having brought home medals after competing in the World athletic championships.

In an interview with Africa Junior women 2016 Cross Country Champion Miriam Cherop, 22, who competes both internationally and locally for Kenya said she had high hopes of winning again as she trains for the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

“I started my season well and during the first AK track and field meeting held at Nyayo stadium Nairobi I emerged position two in the 1,500m.  I am optimistic that this year I will bring home gold as I am preparing for the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games. I really thank Coach Gabriel for my excellent performances both in local and international competitions.” said Cherop.

The 2019 800 metres World U20 Silver medalist in Tampere, Finland Kipngetich Ngeno said this year he was hopeful of doing well in all the competitions in his athletic calendar.

“I think this year things will go well. With God and with the help of my coach Gabriel I know I will perform well in all my races.  I am hopeful of achieving excellent results in the Prisons Cross Country title to be held in May as this will set my stage to compete in the World Athletics Championships scheduled to be held in Eugene, Oregon, United States. I competed in the 2019 Africa Junior Championships which were held in Dakar, Senegal in May and I bagged gold and in 2019 during the Africa U20 championships held in Doha, Qatar in the month of October I brought home a silver medal. My best time is 1:44.57 and I am working at lowering this,” added Ngeno.

Runners in Kiptanui’s stable include female long distance runner and 2015 Steeplechase World Champion Stella Chelangat, 2019 800metres  Silver medalist 2019 World U20 in Tampere, Finland Kipngetich Ngeno, 2013 World U18 1,500m Steeplechase gold medalist Robert Biwott, Mercy Cherono who broke World Youth record in Women ‘s 3000m in 2007 in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Africa Junior women 2016 Cross country champion Miriam Cherop and the reigning world 3,000 steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech.

By Sarah Njagi

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