Kemboi lights up Kenyan championships

NAIROBI: In-form Commonwealth steeplechase silver medallist Ezekiel Kemboi set out his World Championships ambitions as he won the Kenyan national title on Saturday. 

After worries over recent poor showings by Kenyan runners, officials and coaches are finally beginning to smile ahead of next month’s championships in Paris. 

While some of the big stars decided to skip the national championships and compete in the lucrative Grand Prix races in Europe, those who have opted to return and train at home gave a good account of themselves during the three-day championships. 

Kemboi, 22, after winning four of the six European Grand Prix races he has competed in, returned home to compete in the nationals and became one of five runners to share the one million shilling (US$13,500) jackpot. 

The silver medallist at last year’s Manchester Commonwealth Games, who trains in the high performance centre in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, won the race in the modest time of 8:21.7. 

He said his aim was to join the long list of Kenyan steeplechasers to win the world title. 

“That’s my goal for this year. I will go back to Europe to compete in two events and return home for the world championships trials on July 25-26,” said the former African champion. 

Kemboi will likely face the former world record holder, Bernard Barmasai, who opted out of the championships to concentrate on his comeback trail for the trials, and Abraham Cherono, who finished second in the race. 

The 1997 world champion Wilson Boit Kipketer faded badly and is now doubtful for the trials. 

The 5,000 metres commonwealth champion Sammy Kipketer maintained his dominance over fellow soldier Benjamin Limo to win his speciality with the world 10,000 metres champion, Charles Kamathi, taking third place. – AFP  

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