Amos Serem celebrates winning the 3000m Steeplechase Final during World Athletics U20 Championships at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi on August 20, 2021. [Stafford Ondego]

Winnie Jemutai is holding her cards close to the chest ahead of tomorrow’s final in the women’s 1500m race. 

Jemutai made it to the last stage after clocking 4:26.47 to finish second behind Ethiopian Diribe Welteji in yesterday’s heats of the World U20 Athletics Championships at Kasarani Stadium.

With two Ethiopians also set to line up in the final, a secretive Jemutai flatly refused to divulge any information that could compromise her chances of winning a maiden major medal here at Kasarani that has been hosting the championships since Tuesday.

“I don’t want to talk about that until I’m through with finals,” said Jemutai when asked about her next game plan.

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Purity Chepkirui is the other Kenyan who will battle the Ethiopians in the final tomorrow.

The Kenyans are set to face stiff competition from the Ethiopian duo of Welteji and Hiwot Mehari.

While Welteji posted the second fastest time in this group 4:26.26 , Chepkirui boasts of the fastest time having clocked 4:22.10 in her heat.

But the Kenyans will also have to be on the look out for Moroccan Meryeme Azrour alongside Hungarian Zita Urban and Finish Ilona Mononen who qualified as the fastest loser.

Men’s 3000m steeplechase is the other final to look up to on the final day with Simon Kiptop Koech and Amos Serem going all out to restore Kenya’s lost glory, especially after losing the Olympics title to Morocco in Tokyo.“Kenyan should not lose hope. We (the youth team) are coming up strongly. We will soon start dominating Steepleshase,” Koech who qualified to the final with a victory in his heat said.

Koech will be looking to beat the 8.52.43 that he posted in the heats.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Wambua, the 200m prodigy, has thrown the ball back to Athletics Kenya (AK) with another promising performance in the sprints as he follows in the footsteps of Olympian Ferdinand Omanyala.

Wambua says that he draws inspiration from Omanyala, the national record holder who became the first Kenyan in recent times to have reached the Olympics semi final.

Kenya’s Purity Chepkirui (third right) in the pack of 1500M Women round 1 World Athletics U20 Championships at the Moi International Sports Complex. Aug 20, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

But the youngster believes that Kenya can also excel in short races, just as it does in middle and long distances.

“We’ve seen what Omanyala did and he’s really motivating most of us to take up the sport. It’s now up to us (country) to recognise sprints,” Wambua who trains at a camp owned by AK vice president Paul Mutwi said after he qualified to the semi final.

For Wambua, the journey to the world stage didn’t start with the national trials held last June.

“I have been running since my days in primary school all the way to high school,” said Wambua who schooled at Iyuni Secondary School.

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