Nairobi — Kenya will field a total of 64 athletes when it hosts the final edition of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships from July 12 at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani as it seeks to go one better than the 2015 edition in Cali, Colombia in 2015 where they finished second overall.
Athletics Kenya Youth Committee Chairman Barnaba Korir has assured they have picked the strongest team and is confident that Kenya will scoop a huge harvest during the games.
"It has been a very rigorous process throughout the last two days of trials and we have picked a very strong team. We have three weeks to prepare and we will do our best to ensure everyone is in good shape and ready," Korir told Capital Sport.
The selectors have kept their promise in ensuring Kenya throws in as many athletes as possible especially in the field events with an equal number of 12 boys and girls selected in various disciplines.
Emmaculate Chepkirui, the World Junior 5000m silver medalist from Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2016 will hope to get her first major championship gold as she leads the Kenyan team in the 3000m, having out-sprinted her opponents to win the trials in a time of 9:05.7, almost 40 seconds clear of the official entry standard.
The 17-year old who finished ninth at the junior level in the IAAF Kampala World Cross Country championships in March is confident she is in the right shape to get Kenya a medal and has promised to run a perfect race at Kasarani.
"I really wanted to get into this team and when I came in for the race, my target was to do my best and not look at anybody else. It was tough but I felt I was in very good shape and I am happy to have won," the excited Kibori School student said after the race.
She added; "Now the hard work has just began and I will go back to work harder in training and ensure that when I race in Kasarani, I win a medal."
She will be joined in the team by Beatrice Chebet who finished in a time of 9:07.00. All the nine athletes in the race clocked well within the qualification mark of 9:47.00 but only the top two earned the tickets to done the red and black Kenyan jersey.
In the corresponding boys' race, Edward Zakayo, a form one student from Elgeyo Marakwet put up a spirited run in the final 200metres to pick the automatic ticket alongside Stanley Mburu.
Zakayo kept within the leading pack heading into the final lap of the race but burst into a battering final kick reminiscent of his idol David Rudisha, crossing the line ahead of Mburu who had pushed him to the edge.
The 17 year old who hails from the Loita Plains in Narok South District sunk to his knees after crossing the finish line, hands held high as he finally achieved a fete he had worked so hard for over the past two years.
"I feel like I am in Jerusalem right now. I am so joyful. I have always wanted a chance to wear that Kenyan jersey in an international competition and now I have it. I feel great. What drives me is that I want to fund my own education and athletics is a way of doing so," an excited Zakayo, still panting from the grueling race told Capital Sport.
He is confident of raking in a gold medal for Kenya though he concedes it will not be easy especially with lurking competition from neighbors Ethiopia.
"Qualification is motivation enough. Now I want to go and work harder, work on my speed and ensure that come next month I will be in shape," he added.
At the same time, George Manang'oi will have an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Elijah Manang'oi after squeezing into the 1500m team following his second spot finish.
Manang'oi finished in a time of 3:44.4, just four microseconds behind the winner Dominic Kipkemoi. It was a tight race with third placed Jacob Kipkorir finishing at 3:44.5.
The young Manang'oi, just 17 years old has been slowly picking the tracks of his senior and participated in the Police Championships last month, managing to finish third in the semi finals.
Elsewhere, Nyanza South's Mary Moraa will carry on her shoulders the weight of a double as she bears Kenya's hopes in both the 100m and 200m after winning both events.
The team will get into camp on Sunday June 18 and they will be training at the Nyayo Stadium.
Meanwhile, Korir has told Capital Sport they employed stringent measures to ensure that only eligible athletes who fall within the required age bracket of 16, 17 years are selected into the team.
"We have thoroughly done background checks for these athletes and even now, we will continue vetting these athletes and if we find anyone who might have sneaked in, we will remove them immediately," Korir confidently stated.
Kenya World U18 team:
Field events: Shot put- Peninah Akoth, Sharon Mukite, Triple jump-Janeth Chemutai, Mary Wangeci, Javelin-Cynthia Chebet, Dorothy Chepngetich, Long jump-Gloria Mulei, Janeth Chemutai, High Jump-Faith Kipsang, Discus -Vivian Jeptoo, Harriet Chiluyi
Track: 100m hurdles-Nusra Rukia, Philian Kerubo, 100m-Beatrice Anyango, Hyvin Chepkoech, 200m- Mary Moraa, Beatrice Anyango, 400m-Mary Moraa, Sharon Jebet, 400m hurdles-Irene Akinyi, Leah Jeruto, 800m-Jackline Wambui, Lydia Jeruto, 1,500m-Edina jebitok, Rachel Nzangi, 3,000m Emmaculate Chepkirui, Batrice Chebet, 2,000m steeplechase-Caren Chebet, Pamela Jeptoo, 5,000m walk race-Leah Nanyala, Regina Joshua
Field Events: Discus-Joseph Nyaga, Nicholas Kiprotich, Shot put-Joseph Nyakundi, Reynold Kipkorir, Triple jump-Musyoka Mwema, Vincent Kilel, Javelin-Ita Nao, Nicholas Kiprotich, Long Jump-Vincent Kilel, High jump-Micah Kipkirui, Evans Kipchirchir, Hammer-Victor Kiplimo
Track: 100m-Elijah Matayo, Kelvin Nyagodo, 110m hurdles-Peter Wambua, James Mucheru, 400m hurdles-Moitalel Mboke, David Saruni, 200m-Philemon Konari, Elijah Matayo, 400m- Kelvin Sawe, David Sanayek, 800m-Noah Kiprono, Japheth Kibiwott, 1,500m-Dominic Kipkemboi, George Manangoi, 2,000m steeplechase-Edward Bett, Kelvin Kipyegon, 3,000-Edward Zakayo, Stanley Mburu, 10,000m walk race-Dominic Samson, Jimmy Oroni.