What you need to know:
- Kandie, the half marathon world record holder, occasionally surged to the front before retreating in the race the 10,000m second heat that saw a pack of seven men battle at the front.
- Shadrack Kiphirchir then took the pack of five athletes into the last six laps in a single file with Kandie in third place before the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) man surged to the front with four laps to go.
World Half Marathon silver medallist Kibiwott Kandie and National Cross Country champion Sheila Chelangat exhibited class to win their respective races during the first leg of Athletics Kenya Track and Field Meeting at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
Kandie, the half marathon world record holder, occasionally surged to the front before retreating in the race the 10,000m second heat that saw a pack of seven men battle at the front.
Shadrack Kiphirchir then took the pack of five athletes into the last six laps in a single file with Kandie in third place before the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) man surged to the front with four laps to go.
The battle would curve into a two-horse race between Kandie and Gilbert Kimunyan with two laps to go. Kandie’s sprightly legs would make the difference as he widened his lead to win by a margin of 80 metres in 28 minutes and 28.0 seconds.
“This is my first track race since July 2019 and it feels great,” said Kandie, who was competing for the first time since relinquishing his national cross country title to Rogers Kwemoi two weeks ago.
“Actually, I have been struggling in training since the energy-sapping cross country championships but my body is fine now,” said Kandie, declaring that his battle at the Tokyo Olympic Games has started in earnest.
“I will now turn to lap training on track. I have to get it right with my speed on track,” said the 24-year-old Kandie, who is still weighing his options ahead of the Istanbul Half Marathon on April 4.
“I will be going for nothing short of a medal in Tokyo, God willing,” said Kandie, who edged out Kimunyan to second place in 28:37.7 as Peter Mwaniki settled third in 28:39.7 in a heat that produced six fastest times.
Emmanuel Kemboi won the first heat in 10,000m in 29:28.9 to be ranked seventh overall as Fredrick Mweti came second in 29:40.6.
Chelangat, who had just arrived from Kigari, Embu, where the national cross country team is camping, laid her act well in the women's 5,000m race.
Occasionally, we could see the national athletics head coach Julius Kirwa issuing instructions to Chelangat on the touchline.
Chelangat would run a solo race in the last laps to triumph in 15:42.2, beating Jackline Rotich and Mary Nyaruai in 15:49.6 and 15:50.2 respectively. “I have two cross country races in Italy in March and this forms part of my preparations with the uncertainty over the Africa Cross Country Championships,” said Chelangat.
National 400m record holder Hellen Syombua, Evangeline Makena and Gladys Musyoki won their 400m heats to advance to the final. Syombua timed 55.17 as Makena clocked 55.89 with Musyoki returning 55.20.
Joshua Ndombi cracked 10.55 sec, beating Hesbon Ochieng in 10.57 to win his heat to reach men's 100m final as Ferdinand Omanyala won the second heat in 10.61sec as USA-based Moffat Wanjiru some the third heat in 10.75.