Kenya: Keter, Lemama Lead Charge for U-20 1,500m Crown

Africa junior 1,500 metres champion Vincent Keter and Emmanuel Lemama are out to ensure Kenya retains the World Athletics Under 20 title during the August 17-22 championships at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Kenya's George Manangoi clocked 3:41.71 to win gold three years when the event was held in Tampere, Finland. Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen was second in 3:41.49, while another Kenyan, Justus Soget, finished third after timing 3:42.14.

Keter, who has been training at Rongai Athletics Training Camp in Kajiado County in the company of world 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, is confident of good results at the Kasarani meet.

He said that Cheruiyot saw his potential in athletics and invited him to join the camp. His target is a gold medal.

"The race will be competitive because European opponents have been a big challenge in the middle distance races. I'm working on endurance," said Keter, who won the race during the national trials held at Kasarani from July 1-3.

In 2018 during the national trials for the Finland World Championships, Keter finished fourth.

After the setback, he intensified training which yielded good results at this year's trials.

Keter said that by participating in Diamond League races last season, he has gained confidence.

Born in Chesoen,in Bomet County, Keter started his running career at Chesoen Primary School when he was in Standard Seven. When he joined Chesoen Secondary School, he specialised in 800m.

When Keter was in Form Two, the coronavirus pandemic struck and he left school, but continued training. He hopes to resume his studies after the championships.

"I used to compete in 800m race up to the nationals. When I joined secondary school, Timothy Cheruiyot who comes from my village, took interest in my performance. He took me to Rongai and advised me to try the 1,500m and we started training together," said Keter, who is coached by Bernard Ouma.

Keter has competed in various races, including Sollentunavallen Grand Prix in Sweden where he clocked his personal best of 3:35.21, in preparation for the World Under-20 Championships.

"Training with my seniors has given me experience. They give me advice and guidance. I don't want to let them down," he said.

On the other hand, Lemama wants to reach the finals and fight for the top two positions.

"We are working hard with my teammate Keter. Kenya won gold in Tampere and we shouldn't be the ones to let it go," said Lemama who comes from Endebesi in Kajiado County.

Lemama started racing in 400m while in primary school. Unfortunately, he dropped out of school because of lack of fees.

His coach Peter Muteti took him to Ndumbe Athletics Camp in Mbumbuni, Makueni County.

"Life was unbearable at home but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel and my dream is to make sure I do well in sports and keep improving wherever I go," he said.

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