1 February 2018

Kenya: Top Kenyan Stars Missing From Commonwealth Games Track Trials

Photo: Xinhua
Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon.

World and Olympic 1,500 metres champion Faith Chepng'etich along with fellow title holders Mercy Cherono (5,000m) and James Magut (1,500m) will not defend their Commonwealth Games titles in April.

This year's games will be held from April 4 to 15 in Gold Coast, Australia.

The trio, who won their races at the 2014 games in Glasgow, Scotland, are not among those invited for the Gold Coast trials on February 16 to 17 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Interestingly, the 2006 Melbourne games 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei, 34, is set to make a return after a three-year maternity break.

Jepkosgei, who also holds the 2007 world 800m title from Osaka, Japan, has been drawn against nine athletes who include the defending 800m champion Eunice Sum, the 2013 world champion, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera.

Athletics Kenya vice president Paul Mutwii said the first three athletes across the finish line in the middle and long distance races will make the team.

"Some sprint and field events entries will depend on allocation by the Games organisers," said Mutwii. Chepng'etich and Cherono, the latter who is also the 2013 world 5,000m silver medallist, are expecting their first babies while it's not known why Magut failed to register although he has been battling injuries since his victory.

MORE STARS MISSING

Other gold medallist missing out on the trials after they failed to register for the Commonwealth Games are Caleb Mwangangi (5,000m), Joyce Chepkirui (10,000m) and Flomena Cheyech (marathon).

Also missing out are world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri, who had indicated earlier that she would take a shot in her speciality, and Olympic 800m champion and world record holder David Rudisha, who won silver in Glasgow upon his return from a long-standing knee injury.

Obiri has instead opted to prepare for the IAAF World Indoor Championships planned for March 1 to 4 in Birmingham, England, while Rudisha is yet to recover fully from a leg injury that saw him fail to defend his world title in London last year.

In Chepng'etich's absence, the focus will be on Winnie Chebet and Judith Kiyeng, who represented Kenya at the World Championships in London last year, the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships mixed relay gold medallist Winfred Mbithe and 2015 IAAF World Relay Championships medley relay silver medallist Selah Jepleting.

The women's 5,000m trials has six athletes seeking to fit into Cherono's spikes and cash in on the absence of Obiri.

They include African Games champion Margaret Chelimo and World Cross Country Championships bronze medallist Lilian Kasait.

Kenya is spoilt for choice in the absence of Magut in the 1,500m with world champion Elijah Manang'oi and silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot heading for the trials.

WOMEN'S STEEPLECHASE

In the race too are 2016 IAAF World Under-20 Championships 1,500m champion Kumari Taki and 2017 World Under-18 Championships gold medallist George Manang'oi, who is Elijah's younger brother.

In Rudisha's absence, world 800m bronze medallist Kipyegon Bett will be the man to beat alongside 2014 IAAF World Under-20 Championships gold winner Alfred Kipketer and 2016 World Under-20 champion Willy Tarbei.

Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase champion Purity Kirui has an opportunity to defend her title but will face stiff challenge from 2015 world champion Hyvin Kiyeng who claimed silver at the Rio Olympic Games and bronze at the 2017 World Championships.

Also set for the women's steeplechase trials are 2016 World Under-20 champion Cellphine Chespol, who is also the 2014 World Under-18 champion, and Beatrice Chepkoech, Kenya's representative at 2015 World and 2016 Rio Olympics.

Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Muia has scaled to 10,000m where is set to try his luck during the trials.

In Muia's absence, the focus is on Olympic and World 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto among others.

Alice Aprot and Emily Chebet are the only athletes who have registered for women's 10,000m hence no trials will be held for the event. The selectors will now look for any athlete from 5,000m to double in the event.

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