AK tweaks Kenya’s final team for African Championships

Mercy Wanjiru

Mercy Wanjiru (singlet number 928) leads Leah Jeruto (284) during the women’s 3,000m steeplechase final of the Athletics Kenya Nationals Championship-cum-African Athletics Championships trials at Ulinzi Sports Complex, Nairobi on May 21.  

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Japan-based 2022 world 10,000 metres silver medallist Stanley Waithaka and 2021 world under-20 3,000m champion Teresiah Gateri have been named in Team Kenya for the African Athletics Championships.

The country will be looking to top the medal standing again at the continental championships scheduled for June 21 to 26 in Douala, Cameroon.

Waithaka’s and Gateri’s selections are part of changes made by Athletics Kenya (AK) to the team that was picked during the National Championship-cum-Africa Athletics Championships trials on May 20-21 at the Ulinzi Sports Complex.

The team has 59 athletes -- 33 men and 26 women, who proceed to residential training today Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

The team head of the delegation is AK Kenya Police chairman Stephen Etyang while head coach is Julius Kirwa.

AK director of youth and development, Barnaba Korir said that most of those dropped didn’t meet the qualifying standards by the May 14 deadline.

“They all passed the anti-doping requirements but fell short when it came to meeting the entry standards,” said Korir. “For instance, the 5,000m men had 13:30.00 as the standard and none of them met the time.”

Africa cross country

Waithaka, the 2018 world under-20 5,000m champion, and 2021 world under-20 5,000m bronze medallist have replaced David Kimaiyo and Africa cross country silver medallist, Naibei Kiplimo.

Kimaiyo (13:33.27) and Naibei (13:37.08) claimed the first two places in 5,000m during the National Championships-cum-trials.

Gateri and Mercy Chepkemoi, who finished fifth, come in for Mercy Wanjiru and Glorious Jepkirui, who had finished second and third respectively in the 5,000m race.

However, Wanjiru, the 2019 African Games 3,000m steeplechase champion, will race in her steeplechase specialty for the continental event after winning the national title at Ulinzi.

Kwamboka, the Kenya Police champion, who finished second in women’s 10,000m, will partner with Emmy Jepkemoi, who settled for fourth place at the nationals and not third-placed finisher Faith Chepkirui.

The men’s team remains the same with the national champion Roncer Konga and Joseph Kiptum all set for continental debuts.

African Games and national 1,500m champion Brian Komen has a new partner in experienced Boaz Kiprugut after Josphat Kipkirui Sang, who came second at the nationals, was left out.

The 2015 African Games 100m silver medallist Eunice Kadogo, who has featured in the last three African editions, will partner with national 100m and 200m champion, Esther Mbagari, in 200m after Loice Morara failed to make the cut. Morara came second behind Mbagari in the 200m final.

Mercy Chebet

National 400m champion Mercy Chebet will team up with the Africa 400m bronze medallist Veronica Mutua in the 400m and not Mercy Chepkemoi, who came second during the trials. Mutua, the 2022 national 400m champion, had finished third at the nationals.

AK have also picked strong teams in both men's and women's 4x400m and mixed relays.

National 400m champion Zablon Ekwam, former national 400m champion Boniface Mweresa, Brian Tinega and David Sanayek are in the 4x400m while Chebet, Mutua, Rahab Ndirangu and Vanice Kerubo are in women's 4x400m team.

Lilian Odira and Sarah Moraa, who will compete in 800m, will double up in the 4x400m mixed relay.

Margaret Gati and the 2021 world under-20 race walk champion will fly the country's flag in the race walk with national champion Emily Ngii and Samuel Gathimba missing in action.

Kenya topped the medal standings in 2018 Asaba, Nigeria and 2022 Saint Pierre, Mauritius.