Rudisha, Kemboi in Kenya team for Glasgow, Kiprop misses out

By evelyn watta
Jun 07, 2021
  • Asbel Kiprop leads the 1500m race at the Nyayo National stadium.(Photo by shutter speed)

  • Julius Yego hurls his javelin for his winning throw of 80.02 which earned him a slot in the Commonwealth games team.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Mercy Cheronoe leads the women's 5000m final.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • L-R:Faith Kipyego,Ann Karindi and Hellen Obiri in action in the 1500m at the Nyayo National Stadium.(Photo by shutter speed)

  • Jairus Birech leads the men's steeplechase race. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Athletics Kenya, AK, picked a talented squad of about 50 athletes spread across the country’s traditional stronghold-the middle and long distance races- sprinters and field competitors for July’s commonwealth games in Scotland and the Africa Championships in Morocco in August.

After a stretched three-day national championship cum trials at the Nyayo National Stadium the AK selectors stuck with the top qualifiers across the track and field events, strengthening the roster by granting world 800m record holder David Rudisha, Commonwealth games defending champions Silas Kiplagat, steeplechasers Ezekiel Kemboi and Milcah Chemos wild cards.

Heeding the call to compete in the final after Thursday’s Diamond league races in Roma, World 800m champion Eunice Sum, the silver medalist from Moscow Mercy Cherono(5000m)and Jairus Birech the winner of the steeplechase race at the Italian meet all succeeded in booking their Glasgow tickets as jet lag got the best of Asbel Kiprop who could barely finish the final race despite leading through the two opening laps. North Rift’s Ronald Kipkemboi won in 3:34.6.

“I am tired. I had a good start in Doha running my third fastest time ever but the extended sea-level stay after that in Eugene, then in Bahamas coupled with the jet lag has certainly affected my shape,” said Kiprop admitting fatigue could also have contributed to his third place finish in Roma on Thursday, a race won by his compatriot Kiplagat.

“Looking at my season it has been jam packed with the relay series runs locally. But then again Africa Athletics and Commonwealth games were not in my plan. But I am in no way burnt out,” he added in response to earlier assertions by AK President Isaiah Kiplagat who had wanted to block runners from running in the last diamond league to save them for the trials.

Cherono, Sum and Birech rule

Barely 24 hours after jetting in from Rome, Cherono and Kisa ran a calculated race never losing touch of the leading pack of the women’s 5000m.

Cherono who ranked third on Thursday behind the winner Genzebe Dibaba, timed her sprint with two laps maintaining a lead she held on to for her 15:19.1 victory with her police teammate Kisa closing in for second in(15:26.4) ahead of All Africa games champion Mercy Wangare who sealed her spot in 15:27.0.

“I really want to go and do well in Glasgow,” said Cherono standing out primarily for her Kenyan flag-inspired hairstyle, red, green and white-streaked braids.

“This hairstyle is what inspires me I love running for my country that’s why I also heeded the call to return home for the trials.”

It was the same desire to defend individual and national honors that spurred on World champion Eunice Sum and Janeth Jepkogei who qualified for her third commonwealth games, after her successful debut in 2006 in Melbourne a performance that catapulted her to fame. Sum won the race in 2:01.5 after a gun to tape lead as Jepkosgei who struggled in Roma closed in for second in 2:01.8 as fast rising Agatha Jeruto third in 2:02.1.

Jairus Birech confirmed his season best 8:06.20 win in Rome was not by fluke as he controlled a diluted men’s steeplechase final to win in 8:18.9.Jonathan Muia finished second (8:21.4), forcing AK to throw in the more experienced Kemboi who skipped Saturday’s race.

Ndiku, Koech beaten

World silver medalist Hellen Obiri followed up her stellar season racing to her fourth competitive win after her opening round in Doha, the world record run in Bahamas and the super 3000m racein Eugene with a leading 4:04.8 win ahead of Faith Kipyegon,fifth in Moscow last year, who timed 4:05.4.

The surprise race of the day was the men’s 5000m where the favourites world indoor champion Caleb Ndiku and Isaiah Koech fell to Joseph Kitur. Kitur returning to competition after a niggling leg and back injury, that kept him away for close to three seasons carried the day in 13:30.1 as Ndiku timed 13:30.2 ahead of Wilfred Kimitei(13:30.3) with Koech(13:30.5)benefiting from the wild card selection.

“Winning a race that has the big names like Koech and Mwangangi is no mean feat. I decided to stick with them and try and move forward in the last meters and it worked,” offered the new national 5000m champion.

A charged Fergusson Rotich topped the 800m in 1:44.7 eager to make up for his failure to qualify for the Olympic final in London and was further calmed by the inclusion of his racing icon Rudisha.

“When I was in school in 2009 and 2010 I always wished and hoped that I could run in the 800m like Rudisha. So it will be good to have him to guide us in Glasgow,” said Rotich.

Africa Bronze medalist Boniface Mucheru and former Mwamba RFC player now turned sprinter Collins Omae were the toasts in the sprints.

Mucheru won the hurdles race in 49.25 second but regretfully missed his target of lowering the 12-year 400m national record of 44.18 seconds as he timed 45.43. Omae won the national 200m crown in 21.60 seconds.

“I had been working on lowering Kitur’s (Samson) record but it means I will have a double target in Scotland, a medal and the national record,” said Mucheru who is likely team up with the champion from New Delhi Mark Mutai in Morocco(46.67) as he managed third behind Solomon Buoga who finished in 46.19.Both times wer off the qualifying mark of 45.60 seconds.

The 2010 haul of 12 gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals in India remains Kenya’s best performance in their 13 appearances at the Club games.

All but one of the gold medals were won in track and field with the 12th coming in swimming. 

Commonwealth Games team: 

400m- Men:Boniface Mucheru

Women:Maureen Chelagat

400m H

Men:Boniface Mucheru, Nicholas Bett

Women: Francisca Koki, Florence Wasike


Men: David Rudisha Real, Rotich Ferguson, Evans Kipkorir

Women: Eunice Sum, Janeth Jepkosgei, Agatha Jeruto


Men: Ronald Kwemoi, Elijah Mwanangoi, James Magut, Silas Kiplagat

Women: Hellen Obiri, Faith Chepngetich, Selah Jepleting


Men: Joseph Kitur, Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, Isiah Koech

Women: Mercy Cherono Koech, Janet Kisa, Margaret Wangare


Men: Josphat Bett, Peter Kirui, Cheruiyot Charles

Women: Florence Kiplagat, Joyce Chepkurui, Emily Chebet


Men: Jairus Birech Kipchoge, Jonathan Junior, Ezekiel Kemboi,

Women: Milcah Chemos, Purity Kirui, Joan Rotich


Men: John Kelai, Erick Ndiema, Stephen Chemlany

Women: Phyllis Ongori, Philemona Cheyech, Agnes Barsosio


Women:Linda Oseso,Lucy Omondi


Men:Mathee Sawe 


Julius Yego 


Men:Tera Langat, Elijah Kimitei, Kiplangat Ruto

Women: Gladys Musyoki