Sarah Moraa aims to kill two birds with one stone

Sarah Moraa

Sarah Moraa reacts after crossing the finish line to win the 800m race during Athletics Kenya World U-20 Trials on June 28, 2024 at Nyayo National Stadium. 

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

As Kenya holds trials to select a team that will represent the country at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, one athlete is hoping to kill two birds using a single stone.

Freshly-minted Africa 800 metres champion, Sarah Moraa, is out to nail down a place in the Kenyan squad that will compete in the championship, which will be held from August 27 to 31 in Lima, Peru.

Sarah, who is a cousin of Commonwealth Games and world 800m champion, Mary Moraa, also hopes to attain Olympic Games standard at the Kenyan trials for the youth games . At the ongoing national trials conclude today at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Athletics Kenya will pick a completely new team to represent the country at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships.

Medallists from the 2022 world event have since scalled up to the senior ranks, leaving the stage for fresh faces. But the trials have attracted some of the finest upcoming athletes, including medallists from Africa Athletics Championships which concluded in Doula, Cameroon, on Wednesday.

Sarah, as well as Edmond Serem and Matthew Kosgei who claimed silver and bronze in men’s 3,000m steeplechase respectively in Douala, are back in the country and are fighting to be in the team to Lima.

Moraa is determined to qualify to compete in Lima, and is also making a final attempt to attain Olympic Games standard. Hoping to qualify for the Olympics, she ran a personal best time of one minute, 59.39 seconds to finish third at the Kenyan trials held at Nyayo National Stadium on June 14, but it was not to be.

Team Kenya selectors have given her an opportunity to hit the Olympics standard before June 30, failure to which she will be replaced by Naomi Korir, who finished fourth at the trials and has better ranking.

“I really wanted to get the (Olympics qualification) time in Doula but the track was slow and therefore not conducive,” Moraa, whose stated dream is to qualify to compete in both Paris and Lima, said.

“I am praying for a fast-paced race (in Kenya Under-20 trials). I hope to hit the bell in 58 seconds,” the 18-year-old said.

Sarah has a burning desire to qualify to compete in Lima so as to have a chance of reclaiming the title Kenya won through Margaret Nyairera in 2014 edition of the youth championship in Eugene, USA.

Moraa will face off with the likes of Africa Under-20 silver medallist, Dorica Isoe who is a Form Four student at St Peter’s Kebirigo High School in Kisii.

“I have trained well and I am focused on finishing in the first two positions to get the ticket,” said Isoe, who, like Sarah, draws inspiration from Mary Moraa.

Serem noted that his silver medal exploits at the continental event has motivated him to do well in the trials and position himself for world glory.

“My prayer is to run well and get into the team,” said Serem, who would like Koech to join him and plan the assault in Peru because of his great team work and spirit.

Serem said that it’s their wish to reclaim the steeplechase honour that has eluded them since Amos Kirui won last in 2016 Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Both men and women’s 5,000m finals were explosive with some of the juniors who represented Kenya at the World Cross Country Championships and Africa Under-20 and Under-18 Championships.

Africa Under-20 10,000m silver medallist Amos Langat, who finished second over the same distance at the Kip Keino Classic and Charles Rotich, who represented Kenya at last year’s world cross country where he finished 12th, highlight the 5,000m contest.

Also in the mixed are Africa Under-18 1,500m silver medallist Brain Muange, a student in the USA, and Andrew Kiptoo.

The World School Cross Country champion Diana Chepkemoi and Sheila Jebet, a fourth-place finisher at this year’s world cross country, are angling for the 5,000m tickets alongside Mercy Chelimo.

Chepkemoi will also be eager to double up in women’s 3,000m steeplechase trials where she will be up against the likes of Judy Chepkoech, who finished third in 3,000m steeplechase at the nationals and Marion Chepng’etich.

Josphat Kipkirui, the Youth Olympics and Africa Under-18 1,500m champion, is a junior to watch in the metric mile race. The junior claimed silver in the 1,500m at the nationals.

Form four students from Kosirai High School in Nandi County are also represented in the event where Kelvin Kimutai will compete in the 800m race, Collins Kibiwott (1,500m) and Marion Chepchumba (400m) race.

The Refugee team consists of Dario Lokoro (3,000m), James Lomoi (400m) and Zinad Akulang (200m/100m).