Nairobi — As Kenya will be out to retain its overall title in the World Athletics Under-20 Championships that will be hosted in Nairobi from August 17-22, Noah Kibet is one athlete who will be seeking to extend the country's dominance in the men's 800m.
Although it's Botswana's Amos Nijel who holds the World Under-20 record (1:43.79), that he broke in 2012 at the event held in Barcelona, Kenya has been the King of the event as since then, the title has remailed in Kenya.
Solomon Lekuta, was the last Kenyan athlete to win the event when the championships was last held in Tampere, Finland, where he clocked 1:46.35 to lead compatriot Kipng'etich Ng'eno to a 1-2 finish.
However, heading to the postponed event that will be held here in Nairobi, Kenya, youngster Kibet, is confident of continuing with winning mentality.
"Speed is of essence as well as stamina and sheer sense of self -belief, I want to continue with what my predecessors have been doing since 2014, winning the 800m gold to ensure it remains in Kenya," Kibet, who is one of the 44 athletes currently in residential camp at the Sports view hotel Kasarani, said.
"This year's event has a lot of advantages and disadvantages as well and it depends how one looks at it, first we will be running here in Kenya, home ground athough there will be no fans, it has a comfort, secondly, the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the sporting calendar so there were no competitions, that's a disadvantage but we will overcome," the promising 800m runner added.
Early in the month during the national trials, Kibet clocked 1:45.45, ahead of Emmanuel Wanyonyi (1:45.81) and Brian Kiptum (1:47.21).
"I think time is not an issue because we have a strong side that can go even faster. For me it will be about winning the race," he stated.
The Form Two student at Mubere Secondary School in Trans Nzoia County recalls how missing on an opportunity to represent Kenya at the Tokyo Olympics is spurring him.
"I will not lie, I have been in some good form lately, the Olympic pre trials where I finished third, topping during the regional and national events, I was in contention for an Olympic ticket but that was not to be," he said.
An injury ruled him out of the Olympics trials for the Tokyo Olympics mid last month therefore dashing his hopes of an Olympic debut.
"I was fearless and maybe I was in line to become the youngest Olympian from Kenya. A leg injury meant I could not make it despite getting the invitation from Athletics Kenya," he disclosed.