Kenya Lines Up Two-Pronged Assault in U-20 Men's Steeplechase

When Kenya hosts the 2021 World Athletics Under-20 Championships from August 17-22 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, the responsibility of upholding the country's dominance in men's 3,000 metres steeplechase will rest on the shoulders young Simon Kiprop Koech and Amos Serem.

Kenya finished on top of the medals table in the last edition of the junior championship held in Tampere, Finland and the country will be out to maintain the performance in the global track and field championship which is less than three weeks away.

Koech who hails from Ng'echeptat village in Bureti, Kericho County reckons they will be out to shine on home soil.

The 18-year-old said he has been fine-tuning his jump technique at the barriers which he believes is one of the key areas where the race could be won in the six-day event.

"I know things will change soon. I'm working hard with an eye on the gold medal. My target is to make sure we run as a team so that we can help one another to beat the opposition.

"There has been a worrying trend in the race which is traditionally Kenyan but this could change soon if we just focus on training and be disciplined," said Koech.

Koech dropped out of school due to lack of school fee but that did not deter him from pursuing athletics.

"Life has been unbearable for me and that's why I dropped out of school and started training. Although I didn't have the right gear, I didn't give up and I'm happy that my star has started to shine. Getting a chance to compete globally after vigorous trials shows that I'm in good shape, but I still need to improve to make sure I go for the top prize," said Koech.

Koech who was inspired by former multiple world and Olympics champion in the distance, Ezekiel Kemboi, says he used to watch what the star athlete in training, and developed interest in the race afterwards..

"In past championships, I didn't care about watching other races but I couldn't dare miss 3,000m steeplechase races. I enjoyed seeing them jumping the barriers and I wanted to just compete like them one day, a dream that's coming true finally," added Koech.

He has been training in Silibwet, Bomet County under the guidance of his coach John Kimetto.

His team mate Serem, a Form Four student at Chewoiyet High School in West Pokot, is looking forward to a good race as he sets his sights on the final.

"It will be a competitive race but I have done good training. I am looking forward to a beautiful competition where we want to win medals for our country," said Serem who hails from Ilulla in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

The 19-year-old trains with some of the best athletes in the world, among them Geoffrey Kamworor and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge at Kaptagat in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Serem is under One4One Sports Management.

During the last edition, Kenya bagged the silver medal through Leonard Bett in a race won by Takele Nigate from Ethiopia. Ethiopia's Getnet Wale settled for bronze.

Serem and Koech are among 45 Team Kenya athletes currently in bubble training at Kasarani.

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