WU18 champ Manangoi targets more glory in Finland

After winning his first 1,500m global title last year during the IAAF World Under 18 Championships in Nairobi, George Manangoi is now eyeing a second title at the World Under 20 Championships scheduled for July 10-15 in Tampare, Finland.

However, before going for the biennial showpiece, George will compete against his elder brother and World champion Elijah Managoi for the first time during the Commonwealth Games slated for April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Australia.

“Last season was very good for me. My focus is on the U 20 Championships before I graduate to the senior ranks. I took a short break and started working on my targets for this year. I will compete at the Commonwealth Games for experience and to test my training before heading to Finland.

The promising athlete added he is relishing the chance to take on his brother on the international stage.

“It will be a good opportunity because he is my role model, a senior World title holder and my mentor. Our coach Bernard Ouma trains us together so it will be very exciting,” he said.

The 18-year-old believes that one day he will be able to challenge his brother for the top podium place, but is currently more eager to learn from him and World silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot who is their training partner at the Rongai Sports Club.

“I will get to that level eventually. Elijah and Cheruiyot have run sub 3:30 last season and set world leads so it’s a good target for me. I believe it’s not a farfetched ambition considering undergo the same training programme and are taught similar techniques.

“I was encouraged by my performance at Machakos where I lowered my personal best (PB) with about eight seconds, from 3:47.53 to 3:40.1,” George told Citizen Digital in reference to the third Athletics Kenya track and field weekend meet in Machakos County, two weeks ago.

During the boy’s 1,500m final at the U18 championships held in Kasarani, George ran a technical race waiting for the Ethiopian duo of Belete Mekonen and Abebe Dessassa to perform rabbit duties as they led the pack in the early stages, as Mekonen led them through 800 metres in 2:07.58.

Mekonen and Dessassa paid dearly after the bell went off as George who had sat at the back patiently lit up the stadium with a devastating last kick to earn his first international title in 3:47.53.

Following his conquest at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani on July 14 and his brother’s in London four weeks later, George reveals that their parents held a big ceremony in their honour and is looking forward to another family celebration after Gold Coast 2018 and World U20 Championships.

His main task in Finland will be to ensure that Kenya retains the title last won by Kumari Taki (3:48.63) during the 2016 edition in Bydgoszcz, Poland, as Team Kenya bagged a total of nine medals; five gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

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