13 July 2017

Kenya: World Under-18 - Zakayo 'Eager to Climb' Top Podium Place

Photo: Chris Omollo/Daily Nation
Kenya's Stanley Waithaka (left) battles Ethiopia's Barega Selemon in 3000m Heat One during the IAAF World Under-18 Athletics Championship.

Edward Zakayo, Stanley Mburu and Jackline Wambui hail from areas not well known for athletics but the budding athletes takes to the track Thursday with a mission.

Zakayo, who comes from Narok South and Central Kenya's Mburu will compete in boys' 3,000m first round while all eyes will be on Muranga's Wambui as she flies Kenya's flag in the girls' 800m first round alongside Lydia Jeruto.

Zakayo believes that a good performance should be a stepping stone to stardom in the world of athletics.

"I must focus on qualifying first then strategise on how to attack for that gold," said Zakayo, who embraced athletes in 2015 while in Standard Seven at Ntasirika Primary School in Loita, Narok South.

"I just can't wait to ascend to that top podium place," said the confident Zakayo, who had to make do with inferior training attire like the famous tyres shoes known as "akala" or "Nginyara" to win at the trials.

"It will be important if we are to qualify both of us to the final since it will be easy to plan how we shall handle our opponents," said Mburu, who just like Zakayo is on his maiden international outing.

The 3,000m final is due on the last day of the championships on Sunday. Zakayo, who idolizes Olympic and World 800m champion David Rudisha, hopes that his victory will enable him secure a good manager and contract, and be able to support his poor family.

"I want to reign like Rudisha in 5,000m and 10,000m," said Zakayo.

The boys 3,000m race has been a battle between Kenya and Ethiopia and this year's won't be an exemption. Kenya has won six of the editions while Ethiopia three.

Richard Kimunyan led his compatriot Davis Kiplangat in staging in 1-2 finish at the 2015 Championships in Cali, Colombia.

The Kenyans are up against World Under-20 champion Selemon Barega from Ethiopia. The 17-year-old Ethiopian notched up three victories in international cross-country races over the winter before finishing fifth in the Under-20 race at the World Cross Country Championships Kampala in March.

He is the fastest in the pack with a time of 7:53.1.


Eritreans Bereket Tedros and Bereket Michael are the other athletes to watch alongside Oscar Chelimo of Uganda and France's Etienne Daguinos.

Kenya is yet to win women's 800m title since Cherono Koech's exploits at the 2009 Championships in Brixen, Italy as they missed out in three consecutive editions.

Wambui and Jeruto are determined to win gold and end Kenya's eight-year drought over the two-lap race at the World Youth event.

"We shall strive to end that drought and close this championships in style," said the 17-year-old Wambui. "But first things first, we need to get through the first round and semi-finals first since that is where crazy things can happen."

Two Ethiopians will be looking to throw spanners into the Kenyan works; Netsanet Desta with a best of 2:04.12 and Hirut Meshesha (2:05.29).

Cuban Maria Calderin is also another athlete to watch.

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