Joy and upsets as Olympics Trials conclude in Eldoret
Kenya selected her Rio 2016 track and field team following the conclusion of the incident-packed two-day Olympics Trials in Eldoret with all the big guns making the team as joy, upsets and shattered dreams played out at an over-capacity packed Dr. Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret.
As is tradition, the Trials traded monumental upsets and jaw-dropping performances in equal measure with 48 athletes included in the provisional squad for the Brazil Summer Games.
Olympic champions, Ezekiel Kemboi who was appointed team captain and David Rudisha will defend their titles in a team brimming with stellar names out to improve on their showing at London 2012 where the country returned only two gold medals.
World champions, Asbel Kiprop, Hyvin Kiyeng, Julius Yego, Nicholas Bett and Vivian Cheruiyot also punched their tickets as well as Beijing 2008 gold winner, Brimin Kipruto also making the squad.
Some of the new faces who realised their Olympics dream are six-time Race walking African women champion, Grace Wanjiru, World junior champion, Margaret Nyairera, freshly-minted African High jump gold winner, Mathew Sawe, sprinters Calvin Nkanata, Mike Mokamba, Alphas Kishoiyan as well as hurdlers Aron Koech and Boniface Mucheru.
London 2012 bronze winner, Alfred Keter, IAAF Diamond League champion, Jairus Birech and 2011 Worlds silver winner, Silas Kiplagat were some of the high profile casualties of the brutal Trials who were forced to the Rio 2016 scrap heap.
Selectors played a huge hand in deciding those who made the squad when heavy rains symbolically drenched Dr. Kipchoge Keino Stadium moments after the final race of the programme, the men 3000m steeplechase final had concluded in an African traditional sign of blessing or good omen.
The rip-roaring action attracted the largest ever gathering for a sporting event in the self-styled ‘City of Champions’ that passed without any many incident on the stands.
Rudisha, Rotich stunned
The men 800m final had been billed as the contest between London 2012 Olympics and Beijing 2015 Worlds champion, David Rudisha and the man who has emerged as his biggest local rival, Ferguson Rotich but no one had prepared for the resurgent 2014 World Junior champion, Alfred Keter.
With all eyes on the world record holder and Rotich who beat him at the Shanghai and Stockholm Diamond League meeting, the over-capacity crowd at Dr. Kipchoge Keino Stadium, including Deputy President; William Ruto were forced to pin-drop silence when Keter and Nicholas Kiplagat surged at the back straight after the belt.
The turn of speed from the blue caught Rudisha, who was intent on sitting back and attacking from 600m who went outside as Rotich moved to the second lane with the two juniors charging for the finish.
In the end or the thrilling race, Kipketer stopped the clock with a resounding 1:43.73 life-time best, an astonishing performance in the punishing 2100m elevation of Eldoret for his biggest victory as a senior as Rotich edged out Rudisha for second with the clocks returning 1:44.05 against 1:44.23 with Kiplagat finishing fourth in 1:44.47.
Nyairera shocks Sum
Minutes before that, the crowd was anticipating a booming victory from home favourite and Moscow 2013 World champion, Eunice Sum but Nyairera, fresh from winning the silver medal at the Durban 2016 African championships had other ideas.
Having sat at the back in the first 400m, she moved up to hang on the coattails for the leaders before unleashing a devastating kick with 150 to go to record the second fastest time ever ran on Kenyan soil of 1:58.27, only bettered by 2008 Olympics champion Pamela Jelimo’s 1:57.17 incidentally at the Trials for the Beijing Games in Nairobi.
Sum led the challengers home in 1:59.63 as former World Youth champion, Winnie Chebet closing the podium in 2:00.16 as the stadium refused to acknowledge the winner by furiously waving their disapproval as she did a merry dance to celebrate her outstanding victory.
Kiprop fulfills favourite role
Beijing Olympics winner, Kiprop and the man he led to the Kenyan 1-2 at last year’s Beijing Worlds for his third global title, Elijah Manangoi were simply untouchable in the men 1500m that delivered a thrilling contest all the way to the finish.
Kiprop opted to attack from the outside to stride to the honours in 3:38.21 in a fast finish to a race that had a measured start which exploded after the bell with Manangoi coming home in his now familiar 3:38.48 as 2014 African bronze medallist, Ronald Kwemoi ran a race of his life to finish third in dead heat time to join the pair in the Rio team.
Among the victims in this race were Commonwealth winner, James Magut (3:39.30) and Kiplagat (3:41.32) who were forced down to fifth and seventh to end their Olympics dream.
In the women’s event, national record holder and Beijing silver medallist, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon punched her ticket to her second Olympics after completing a well executed 4:06.71 victory when she shifted through the gears over the final two laps to open a significant advantage over Nancy Chepkwemoi (4:10.00) and Viola Lagat, the sister of American former Worlds double champion, Bernard Lagat, who shared the podium with her.
The trio also made last year’s Beijing Worlds.
Kiyeng, Kipruto lead the queue in steeplechase
For the second day, two-time Olympics champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, was wildly acclaimed when his name was called out at the start of the men 3000m steeplechase final that was dominated by the favourites including twice Worlds silver medallist, Conseslus Kipruto and namesake Brimin who was seeking a third successive appearance at the Summer Games.
The final turned into a procession when the heat of competition compounded a miserable season for Birech who dropped out with four laps as the 2008 Olympics and last year’s bronze medallist in Beijing, Brimin won in 8:27.68 with Conseslus (8:27.86) coming in second and Kemboi a step behind in third (8:27.95).
The trio who were a cut above the rest of the finalists were accused of gamesmanship when they waited for each other in the closing stages once their top-three places was confirmed, with Kemboi even waving to the crowd as they came off the final water jump.
Beijing champion, Kiyeng was in no charitable mood in the corresponding women’s race when she took command of the race from leader Beatrice Chepkoech in the penultimate lap to charge away in the closing 400m for a dominant 9:27.9 victory that underlined her rich vein of form.
Chepkoech (9:36.2) and 2010 African bronze winner, Lydia Rotich (9:41.4) rounded the podium further back in a final that saw Moscow 2013 silver medallist, Lydia Chepkurui, collide heavily with a barrier and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.
In Javelin, Beijing champion, Julius Yego won with a best effort of 81.04m that fell short of his stated target of 85m ahead of Nelson Yego 71.20m and African bronze winner, Alex Totoitich (74.51m).
African bronze winner, Aron Koech, the twin brother of world champion, Nicholas Bett got a photo finish decision against Durban gold winner, Boniface Mucheru in the final of the men 400m Hurdles with the timers returning 48.88 against 48.89 as both crossed the line hand in hand in a race the Beijing winner did not feature much to the disappointment of those who were out to catch a glimpse of him in action.
Former World Youth silver medallist, Alphas Kishoiyan (44.96) and Jacinta Tabuda won the men and women 400m races to make the team.
SELECTED DAY 2 RESULTS
200m: 1. Peter Mwai 20.86; 2. Carvin Nkanata 20.92; 3. Gilbert Otieno 21.23;4. Kipkemoi Soi 21.61
400m: 1. Alphas Kishoiyan 44.96, 2. Raymond Kibet 45.60, 3. Stanley Kieti 45.98, 4. Collins Omae 46.00, 5. Joseph Poghisio 46.05
800m: 1. Alfred Kipketer 1:43.73, 2. Ferguson Rotich 1:44.05, 3. David Rudisha 1:44.23, 4. Nicholas Kiplagat 1:44.47, 5. Jackson Kivuva 1:44.71
1500m: 1. Asbel Kiprop 3:38.21, 2. Elijah Manangoi 3:38.48, 3. Ronald Kwemoi 3:38.48, 4. Timothy Cheruiyot 3:38.80, 5. James Magut 3:39.30, 6. Abednego Chesebe 3:40.24, 7. Silas Kiplagat 3:41.32, 8. Vincent Kibet 3:42.02, 9.Hillary Ngetich 3:43.32, 10. Elijah Kiptoo 3:43.79
10000m: 1.Paul Kipng’etich Tanui 27:46.15, 2. Charles Muneria 27:57.07, 3. Wilfred Kimeli Kimitei 28:23.56, 4. William Sitonik Malel 28:23.56; 5. Vincent Kipng’etich 28:28.31, 6. Cleophas Kiprotich 29:04.37, 7. Augustine Choge 29:13.35, 8. Stephen Arita 29:32.64, 9. Patrick Muendo 29:55.43
400m Hurdles: 1. Aron Koech 48.88, 2. Boniface Mucheru 48.89, 3. Kiprono Kosgei 49.22, 4. William Mbevi 50.64, 5. Stephen Tenei 52.76, 6. Vincent Koskei 53.15, Nicholas Bett DNS
3000m Steeplechase: 1. Brimin Kipruto 8:27.68 2. Conseslus Kipruto 8:27.86 3. Ezekiel Kemboi 8:27.95, 4. Hillary Kipkemboi 8:32.03, 5. Alex Kibet 8:35.23, 6. Paul Kipsiele 8:41.26, 7. Wilson Malaba 8:41.72, 8. Abel Mutai 8:43.62
Javelin: 1. Julius Yego 81.04m, 2. Nelson Yego 71.20m, 3. Alex Totoitich 74.51m, 4. Gilbert Bett 63.61m
200m: 1. Eunice Kadogo 23.70, 2. Milicent Ndolo 23.92, 3. Mary Tanui 24.81, 4. Catherine Nandi 25.07
400m: 1. Jacinta Shikanda 52.37, 2. Maureen Thomas 52.45, 3. Sharon Muli 54.34, 4. Catherine Nandi 54.36, 5. Veronica Mutua 54.95
800m: 1. Margaret Nyairera 1:58.27, 2. Eunice Sum 1:59.63, 3. Winnie Chebet 2:00.16, 4. Sylvia Chesebe 2:00.96, 5. Elgay Nalianya 2:00.98
1500m: 1. Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon 4:06.71, 2. Nancy Chepkwemoi 4:10.00, 3. Violah Lagat, 4. Judy Kiyeng,4:11.93, 5. Mary Wangare Kuria 4:18.63, 6. Sela Jepleting 4:24.43
5000m: 1. Vivian Cheruiyot 15:01.60 2. Helen Obiri 15:13.45 3. Mercy Cherono 15:25.51 4. Janet Kisa 15:41.03 5. Sheila Chepkirui 15:44.60, 6. Grace Kimanzi 15:55.54, 7. 15.57.25, 8. Viola Kibiwott 15:57.76, 9. 16:13.31
400m Hurdles: 1. Maureen Jelagat 57.35 2. Jane Chege 59.75, 3. Florence Wasike 60.88, 4. Betty Chelangat 61.78, 5. Nelly Anjera 64.29
3000m S/Chase: 1. Hyvin Kiyeng 9:27.9 2. Beatrice Chepkoech 9:36.2, 3. Lydia Rotich 9:41.4, 4. Gladys Cherotich 9:48.1