Youngsters step up preps for U-20 trials

Deborah Chemutai

Deborah Chemutai speaks after training at Singilet in Chepterwai, Nandi County on June 26, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Some 415 athletes from 14 regions across the country will compete for limited slots at the trials.
  • Kenya will be seeking a third overall title in a row after winning in 2018 Tampere, Finland where the team bagged 11 medals (six gold, four silver and a bronze) and in Nairobi last year where the medal haul stood at 16 (eight gold, one silver and seven bronze).

Deborah Chemutai, a Form Three student at Cheptonon Secondary School in Nandi County, is optimistic of getting a slot in the national team when she competes in the two-day Athletics Kenya Under-20 National Trials at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi from Friday.

She is eyeing a place in the World Athletics Under-20 Championships that will be held in Cali, Colombia on August 1-6.

Chemutai narrowly missed out last year when she finished third in the trials, and did not make the team for the world U-20 event that was held at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

The young runner who has entered the 5,000 metres and the 3,000m races, said yesterday that she has improved her tactics and is confident that she will be among the first two athletes to cross the line.

“I was beaten narrowly last year during the trials. But I have stepped up training, and I have improved my endurance and speed in the last lap because that is where I lost last year,” she said.

Chemutai looks up to Olympian and classmate Edinah Jebitok for inspiration.

She said that Jebitok encourages her to work hard in training so that apart from doing well in school, she can also do well in her career.

The soft-spoken athlete has had a feel of an international race when she was a pacesetter in the women’s 5,000m race during the Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour event at MISC Kasarani on May 7.

She dropped out of the race after seven laps when she completed her task.

“It was a great experience. I am now ready to do a full race at an international championship, but first I must make the qualifying mark during the trials,” she said.

Denis Kipng’etich

Denis Kipng’etich trains at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on June 28, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Chemutai’s classmate, Judy Chepkoech, will be competing in the 3,000m race at the trials and her target is to make the national team.

“My focus is winning the race.Although I know that it will be competitive, I will do my best to finish in the first two positions so that I can make the team,” she said.

The athletes said that they have been balancing class work and sports to ensure that they use their time well while in class or on the field.

Nation Sport caught up with another junior athlete, Denis Kipng’etich, fine-tuning his training at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. Kipng’etich said that he knows some of his opponents and he expects a tough race.

“When I finished school last year, I hoped to get an athletics scholarship abroad. When the plan failed, this year I decided to train fully for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships after getting a good coach (Erick Kogo). I am prepared for the battle. I know some of my competitors, and I have to work hard to finish the race in a good position,” said Kipng’etich.

Some 415 athletes from 14 regions across the country will compete for limited slots at the trials.

Kenya will be seeking a third overall title in a row after winning in 2018 Tampere, Finland where the team bagged 11 medals (six gold, four silver and a bronze) and in Nairobi last year where the medal haul stood at 16 (eight gold, one silver and seven bronze).

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