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Kenya head to World Junior Championships without star performer

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan junior team remained hopeful of clinching the overall title as the last team members left the country on Sunday night without 3,000m runner Mercy Chepkorir.

This means Kenya will now have 26 athletes in Tampere, Finland as they seek to outshine the USA in the World Under-20 Championships which starts on Tuesday.

Athletics Kenya chairman in charge of youth and development Barnaba Korir, said on Monday he is disappointed and empathized with Chepkorir.

“We are saddened by the fate Chepkorir had to endure. It is not our making that her passport was not stamped for a visa due to an anomaly over her gender. The passport indicates she is male, yet she is female and the Finland embassy in Nairobi could not approve it,” he said in Nairobi.

Nonetheless, the final team got on to the plane with every expectation of surpassing their last medal haul in Bydgoszcz, Poland two years ago.

Kenya claimed nine medals in the Polish city, five gold, two silver and two bronze to finish second to the United States, who collected 21 (11 gold, seven silver and three bronze). Head coach Robert Ngisirei attributed the poor showing by Kenya to competition from Ethiopia, Uganda, Qatar and Bahrain.

However, he believes the new team he will present in Tampere will weather the storm from traditional rivals and even widen their medal scope to field events and sprints, events normally dominated by USA, China and Jamaica.

In the absence of Chepkorir, Kenya will now be represented in the 3,000m by Zena Jemutai, who won during the national trials in Nairobi in June.

Ngisirei pointed out the agility of triple jumpers Gloria Mulei and Philip Musyoka who are the first Kenyan triple jumpers in history who will be competing at the event.

“They have what it takes. They attained the international qualification marks and they are in Finland on merit. Mulei jumped 12.97 meters in Nairobi beating the qualifying mark of 12.85 meters,” the coach said.

Mulei believes the best is yet to come. “I want to improve that record further at the world junior event and perhaps reach the final,” Mulei said.

Mulei also hopes the expedition in Finland will also help to secure qualification for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019.

“The focus is on winning a medal at the world junior event... Getting into the Kenyan team for the World Championships for senior athletes will be a bonus,” Mulei said.



Kenya Junior team off to Finland for World Under-20 Championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s newest 800m stars off the production line Lydia Jeruto Lagat and Jackline Wambui will put on line their fame as they lead the country in the World Under-20 Championships, which starts in Tampere, Finland from July 10-15.

The two are part of the 27 team that jetted out of Nairobi Saturday for Finland where they hope to help Kenya claim its fourth overall title and tilt the advantage from the United States.

Coach Robert Ngisirei said he is certain the team he will present in Finland will weather the storm and win medals, especially in middle distance, sprints and field events.

“They have learnt the skills well and are ready for the world to see what new talent Kenya has off its production line. They represent the future of the country in track and field and I believe they have the credential and merit to be run and conquer the world,” said Ngisirei.

Kenya has topped the medal standing thrice in the history of the championships in 2000 Santiago, Chile, 2006 Beijing, China and in 2010 Moncton, Canada.

Kenya will be gunning to reclaim the title it last won in 2010 in Canada before losing to the United States who have gone on to dominate the last three editions in Spain, on its home soil and in Poland.


Kenyan athletes eye overall medals lead at World U-20 Championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s junior team head coach Robert Ngisirei says his team is under siege as it aims to reclaim the overall title at this year’s World U-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Speaking here Thursday after the team cleared a three week training camp, Ngisirei said his charges are capable of carrying the burden on their shoulders.

“It is up to this team to go out and prove they have what it takes to conquer the world. We have cleared our training and now what remain is for the athletes to enjoy their performances at the global level. It is another chance to prove to the world, they are ready to take over from their seniors,” said Ngisirei.

Kenya has topped the medal standing on three occasions in the history of the championships.

They were the best team at the 2000 games in Santiago, Chile, a feat they repeated in 2006 in Beijing and in 2010 in the Moncton, Canada.

Ngisirei is certain that the 27-member team has the ability to chalk up their fourth overall title in Finland.

“I will not delve into the issue of ranking too much. These athletes have shown it all at the youth level and now as juniors. Their legs will do the talking in Finland. Kenya has always had strong teams to the junior championships, but this team is special and they can beat any athlete out there,” he added.

World youth 1,500m champion George Manangoi says he is also focused ahead of the championships.

“I am focused on winning my race in Finland. That way, I will be able to dedicate the medal to my late sister. I believe in my own strength, though the caliber of competition keeps improving by the day,” he said.

Only Kenya and USA have emerged atop in the medal standings in the last two decades of the competition.


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