Kenya: Kibet, Jemutai Light Up North Rift U-20 Pre-Trials

Preparations for the World Under-20 Championships continued Saturday with Athletics Kenya holding pre-trials events in four regions ahead of the national trials.

North Rift, Eastern, Western and Central regions held their trials in various parts of the country selecting teams that will converge in Nairobi from July 1 to 3 where a team that will represent the country in the global event will be selected.

During the North Rift event, Noah Kibet from Trans Nzoia managed to shake off a strong field to win the 800m race in one minute, 45.1 seconds ahead of Justin Kiprotich (Elgeyo Marakwet) who clocked 1:46.7 while Brian Kiptum from Trans Nzoia settled for third in 1:49.0.

Kibet, who trains under the Ndura Athletics Club said he was using the race to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics trials due next week. He is among the few athletes invited for the Olympics trials after an impressive race during the pre-trials two weeks ago.

"During the pre-trials event at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, I was locked inside the lane but today I ran from the front to avoid such scenarios. I want to be in the Under-20 team and my target is to win a gold medal in the world championships," said Kibet.

In the women's 800m race, Judy Jeruto (Elgeyo Marakwet) won in 2:11.0 ahead of Brenda Jebet (Elgeyo Marakwet) who timed 2:12.8 while Elizabeth Adievi (Turkana) was third in 2:17.9.

In the women's 3,000m race, Zena Jemutai from Elgeyo Marakwet who is also the 3,000m Africa Junior champion was the star attraction after bagging victory in her speciality and 1,500m race.

She led a clean sweep of Elgeyo Marakwet County winning the 3,000m race in 9:28.8 ahead of teammates Maureen Jepkoech who clocked 9:41.9 and Brenda Kiplagat who settled for third in 9:55.8.

Jemutai, who was fourth during the last edition, said she is working hard to be in the team as she hunts for the gold medal that slipped her in Tampere, Finland.

"I narrowly missed the podium because I was running alone from Kenya in 2018 but I have done good training and my target is to make the team and go for the gold medal during the global event," she said.

In the women's 1,500m race, Jemutai cruised to victory in 4:25.3 beating Janet Jepkoech to second place who timed 4:35.1 while Grace Loibach was third in 4:37.5.

In the women's 5,000m race, Irene Jepkerker won in 17:9.6 ahead of Miriam Jebet 17:15.5 while Jarrion Jeptoo sealed the podium in 17:41.8.

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei said the federation will select a team that will do Kenya proud, this being the first time the country is hosting this championship.

"Many regions have done their trials and we have seen good athletes whom we shall be able to assist them more in training to make sure that we bag more medals once we line up for the championships which is happening for the first time in Kenya," said Tuwei.

Elgeyo Marakwet County governor Alex Tolgos, who graced the occasion said that Kenya has always done well in various athletics events and the youth are expected to perform better come August.

"The level of competition we have seen today is world class and we know our youths will perform better once the team is selected in July. There is more we can do as a country to improve on the welfare of athletes including building good facilities for training," said Tolgos.

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