What you need to know:
- Ethiopians Tsegay and Seyaum, and Dutch star Sifan also ease into final
- Chelimo, Chebet, Kite make the women’s final but face tough Ethiopian challenge
In Eugene, Oregon
Team Kenya’s trio of Margaret Chelimo, Beatrice Chebet and Gloria Kite are ready to match the weight of expectation and defend the 5,000m title for the nation come Sunday’s final at the Oregon World Athletics Championships.
The trio exhibited an aura of confidence after each braved tough weather conditions to advance through the heats at the Hayward Field in the early hours of Thursday.
Chebet and Chelimo did not try too much as both read the mood well to finish third and fourth respectively in Heat One.
“The semi-final was tough because it’s humid but we thank God we are in the finals,” said Chebet, a debutant at the World Championships.
She posted a time of 14 minutes and 53.34 seconds while Chelimo clocked 14:53.45, both behind Ethiopians Gudaf Tsegay and Dawit Seyaum.
“I feel happy I am in the final but today the humidity was too high,” remarked Chelimo, who scooped a bronze medal behind winner Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey and compatriot Hellen Obiri in the 10,000m final last weekend.
Kite didn’t make the top five automatic slots but was fast enough to post 14:53.62 in sixth place via Heat Two to make the next five fastest.
Of the Kenyan trio, Chelimo, 29, is the most experienced.
Chelimo now plans to work with Chebet and Kite to restore national pride in the race final.
“In the final, we don’t know but the final is a final. Now that’s where we go for a medal, all of us,” she said. In Doha, Chelimo picked up a silver behind Obiri.
“Now that Obiri is not there, we will do our best,” she added. “We just want to bring the medals home,” Chebet said.
The task at hand is huge. The Kenyans are up against a trio of Ethiopians led by Gidey who won Heat Two in a time of 14:52.27 with 2017 bronze medallist Dutch girl Hassan Sifan coming third in 14:52.89.
“But in all my hopes, there’s something good in the offing. I just want to be in the medal bracket and we are not scared of anyone,” Chebet said. “I just pray for good health, whatever will happen will happen,” the 2018 world U20 champion added.
Gidey has no major honour over the 5,000m but the 10,000m world record holder is eyeing a championship double while Hassan, despite being relatively quiet this year, is the reigning 5,000m Olympic champion.
“I feel good, my body is getting back (to shape),” she said after the Heats.
However, the last nine world titles here have been shared by Kenya and Ethiopia with the latter scooping five.