Kenya’s Mulei carries continent’s hopes in the triple jump
Gloria Mulei became the first Kenyan field athlete to reach the final of the girls triple jump in a major global championship after her impressive 12.46m leap narrowly saw her make the cut for Saturday’s final at the IAAF under 18 athletics championships at Kasarani.
Mulei, 17, was not at her best during the mid-morning session and placed 6th with her first attempt but punched her ticket to the final by finishing among the 12 best performances in the qualifying heats.
Officials opted to use the criterion as opposed to utilizing a set standard distance of 12.75m to select the athletes for the final. She had two attempts but in her second jump Mulei set a mark of 11.42m but her initial jump was enough to propel her to Saturday’s final denying Jamaican Lotavia Brown a place by a centimeter. Lotavia was one of 6 other athletes whose marks failed to attain the requisite distance.
China’s medal hopeful Qijuiao Tan was the leading jumper in the qualifying rounds as she set a distance of 13.16m, which was also her personal best mark. She now stands as one of the favorites in Saturday’s final with Cuba’s Zulia Hernandez who registered the second biggest jump of the day with 12.92m also expected to be one of the strong contenders for a podium finish. The Cuban jumped 13.14m back home in Havana in February 2017 and could upset the form book.
Bulgarian, Alexsandra Nacheva who currently holds the world under 18 leading distance of 13.45m sealed her place as well with her 12.76 jump to finish second behind China’s Tan. Nacheva has crossed the 13m mark twice this season and is the firm favorite for the gold medalon Saturday.
Kenya’s Gloria Mulei definitely has a herculean task in Kasarani and the weight of expectation will be heavy being the only African representative carrying the continent’s hopes in the 4pm final.