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Kenya under pressure to deliver medals at
World Junior athletics, to name final team       

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s athletics production line will be put to test ahead of the World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei said the national team will be under pressure to improve on their second ranking from the last championships and cautioned athletes to expect a fierce battle for the medals.

“We must select the best athletes. Competition from China, USA, Uganda, Ethiopia, Germany and Jamaica has intensified and we must review our tactics,” said Tuwei on Saturday in Nairobi.

Kenya is due to name its final team to the World Junior championships, which runs from July 10-15 in Finland.

“Trials for World Under-20 Championships will be held on June 12 in Nairobi, to select a team to represent the country in Finland,” said Tuwei.

IAAF has confirmed that a provisional entry of 1718 athletes from 171 teams has been received and Kenya hopes to have a team of 30 athletes to the event.

During the 2016 championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Kenya was second overall to the United States winning nine medals — five gold, two silver and two bronze.

USA had 21 (11 gold, seven silver and 3 bronze). Ethiopia, Cuba and Jamaica filled the top five spots.

Kenya targets top names for the championships including George Manangoi, the World Youth champion in 1,500m, Cellphine Chespol, Edward Zakayo, Beatrice Chebet and Immaculate Chepkirui.

Chepkirui, 18, who finished ninth at the junior level in the IAAF Kampala World Cross Country championships in March last year is confident she is in the right shape to get Kenya a medal and has promised to run a perfect race in Nairobi.

“I really wanted to get into this team and when I came in for the race, my target is to do my best and not look at anybody else. It will be tough but I feel am in very good shape,” she said.

Zakayo, 18, made his mark when he won the gold at the World Youth Championships in Nairobi last year.

“I have always wanted a chance to wear that Kenyan jersey in an international competition. Now I want to go and work harder, work on my speed and ensure that come next month I will be in shape,” he said.


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