Athletics Kenya (AK) has expressed its delight with the large number of sprinters who turned up for the first relay series held Saturday at the Nairobi West Prisons grounds.
The meet which was earlier scheduled to take place in Mombasa saw a large number of short and middle-distance athletes showing up for the build ups that will culminate in the trials to select Kenya’s team for the World Relay Championships slated for May 11-12 in Yokohama, Japan.
Africa 1,500m champion Winny Chebet comfortably won the 800m final as she set sights on making her maiden appearance in the World Relays.
“This was my first time competing in relay and I am working out so that I can get a chance to represent Kenya in Japan. I am also using this meet as build up to the Diamond League set to begin in May,” said Chebet after winning the race.
World Under-20 1,500m champion George Manangoi after failing to nail down a slot in Kenya’s team for World Cross Country Championships shifted his focus to the relay series as he competed in the 800m race.
“I will be competing in all the meets so that I can gain more experience. I am also ready to compete for a place in the team and after the next meeting I will assess my performance and then decide my preferred race,” said Manangoi, younger brother of the World 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi.
Other athletes who competed include Joan Cherono who participated in 200m and 400m, Millicent Ndoro who clinched the 100m final as well as the 2011 World Youth silver medalist Alphas Kishoiyan who competed in 400m and 800m.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, AK senior vice-president in charge of competition Paul Mutwii was elated by the huge number of athletes who showed up for the event.
“Being the first meet, I am happy that a lot of athletes have showed up and this is a good picture in that they have heeded to our call and thus I am certain that we will select a very strong team,” said Mutwii
With two new events already introduced by IAAF ahead of the biennial event, Mutwii said the athletes will be taught on the new events during the series. The new events introduced ahead of the May showpiece are the mixed shuttle hurdles and a mixed 2x2x400m relays.
“We also have two new events introduced ahead of the world event. And it is now upon coaches to do work on their athletes and we are anticipating that as we continue athletes will keep learning. Consequently, we expect to have a slightly larger number to Japan and we have communicated to the government on the same,” observed Mutwii.
The second meet will be held in Kisumu on March 16, with the third and last series slated for Nakuru on April 6. The trials will thereafter be held on April 13 at the Lorna Kiplagat Stadium.
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