Kimunyan triumphs in 10k at Eldoret AK meet
African Games 5000m bronze medalist Richard Yator Kimunyan stormed to victory in the men’s 10000m as the first leg of Athletics Kenya (AK) Track and Field competition kicked off Saturday at the University of Eldoret.
With the Olympic Games and Africa Championships major events this season, athletes thronged the venue in numbers with distance races witnessing more than six heats.
After playing a second fiddle to Josephat Kipchirchir for the better part of the race, Kimunyan sprinting in the last 200m saw him win the race in a photo finish as he clocked 30:29.3 with Kipchirchir coming home second in 30:29.4 while Kennedy Kimutai placed third in 30:29.8.
Kimunyan who is based at Torongo Athletics camp in Baringo County said he was using the race as a build as he seeks to make the team for Tokyo Olympics.
“I am happy that I have started this season with a win. I had an elaborate plan to stick behind and strike in the last lap. For me my main focus is the Olympics Games, I will compete in either 5000m or 10000m,” said Kimunyan.
In another final of the day, Maureen Jelagat of Kenya Prisons Service won the women’s 400m hurdles after clocking 64.5 ahead of Brigid Jelagat of Kenya Defence Forces who finished second in 66.1 as Winnie Jelagat of Torongo closed the podium in 68.4.
In the men’s Discuss, David Limo emerged victorious after throwing 48.69m as Benson Maina (47.43m) and Leonard Bett (44.88m) finished second and third respectively.
Zeddy Chesire took top honours in the women’s high jump after hitting 1.71m mark with Judy Jepkemboi coming in second in 1.50m
Former world 800m champion Eunice Sum won her heat in 1500m and will thus compete in Sunday’s finals alongside African Games 1500m champion Qualine Kiprop who also triumphed in her heat.
National 400m record holder Hellen Syombua easily qualified for the finals after winning her heat in 54.7 and will therefore face off with Veronicah Mutua, Gladys Musyoki and Jepkosgei Korir.
AK Central Rift chairman Abraham Mutai lauded athletes for turning up in large numbers for the two-day event.
“We are very happy with the turn out of the athletes today. We did not expect that many athletes will show up like this. It has even forced us to push the women’s 5000m finals due to the high number of entries,” said Mutai.
The event was slated to be held at Kipchoge Keino stadium but since it is closed for renovations the organisers opted for the University of Eldoret where many athletes from the region usually use for their speed work exercises.
World under-20 5000m champion Beatrice Chebet will face off with world under-18 800m silver medalist Lydia Jeruto and Sandrafelis Chebet in the finals of 5000m.
National 400m champion Mary Moraa clocked 2:12.1 to qualify for the finals in the women’s 800m.
Moraa said she is on the right path to recovery after sustaining injury towards the end of last season.
“I am now feeling okay. I wanted to assess my fitness because I am currently focusing on Olympics,” said Moraa.
The event concludes on Sunday with all the finals lined up including the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.