Vincent Keter (466) leads pack in the 1500m Men Semi-Final 2 during the Athletics Kenya Trials World U20 Championship at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya on July 01, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

The first day of World Under 20 Athletics national trials at Kasarani Stadium produced some exciting talking points.

Big dreams, redemptions and upsets remained quite visible as a mix of experienced juniors battled a crowded field of upstarts in the chase for slots to World Under 20 Athletics Championships that run at the same venue on August 17-22.

The contest, which concludes on Saturday, saw athletes who have made the national team fire warning shots in middle distance races.

Africa 3000m champion Emmanuel Kiplagat won men’s 5000m semi-final one without fuss in 13:56.86 ahead of Benson Kiplagat (13:57.49) and Reuben Mosin (13:58.47).

Kiplagat, who wore the continental crown in Ivory Coast in 2019, said he longs to become Africa and world champion.

Kiplagat, who completed Form Four at Kaptimbor High school in Baringo last year said: “I have won the Africa 3000m title but I need gold in 5000m. I know it is possible. I only need to plan well.”

Levi Kibet, who won men’s semi-final two, also boasts a similar script in what promises fireworks in the finals tomorrow.

Kibet, a Form Three Student at Kosirai High School in Nandi, longs to improve his school’s world under 20 pecking order in 5000m.

He said: “I have prepared well. While a student in our school, Mathew Kisorio won silver at the World Under 20 Championships in Poland in 5000m in 2008. I think it’s time I win the silver medal for our school. I have a lot of confidence that I can do it.”

Levi Kibet reacts after winning the 5000m Men Semi-Final Heat 2 during the Athletics Kenya Trials World U20 Championship at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya on July 01, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

Rookies are also keen to break the duck and wear the national team colours.

Faith Chepkoech, second in women’s 1500m semi-final one, wants to make her debut in the national team.

“This is my time. I really want to represent the country,” she said.

In men’s race, Simon Kipkosgei made his intentions clear as he won semi-final one despite stiff challenge.

Kipkosgei, a Form Three student at Chewoyet High School in West Pokot, said: “The most important thing for me is to make the team. I had planned to finish in top three and represent the country for the first time.”

Women’s 3000m provided a stage for redemption for Zena Chemutai, fourth at the World Under 20 5000m Championships in Tampere, Finland, in 2018.

Chemutai finished second behind Japan-based Teresia Muthoni in what spark off tough duel in the finals tomorrow.

Medical team attends to an athlete who fainted after competing in the 5000m Men Semi-Final Heat 1 on July 01, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

In the second semi-final, Marion Chepng’etich longs to atone for failing to travel to Lome, Togo, for Africa cross country championships in 2020 and 2021 –due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“I want to make a breakthrough this time. I made the national team twice but could not travel due to Covid-19 pandemic. I pray to God to make it this year,” said Chepng’etich.

Things were no different in women’s 1500m semi-finals with Purity Cherotich and Maurine Cherotich standing out as Covid-19 pandemic casualties. The two made the 2020 and 2021 Africa cross country teams.

Cherotich, fourth in 1500m at the 2019 Africa juniors, longs to make amends in the finals tomorrow.

But will a reprieve for Vincent Keter, who finished sixth in 1500m at the Tokyo Olympic Games trials last week.

“When I missed out in the Olympic squad, I decided to focus on World Under 20 trials. I am certain to make the team.”

A journalist working for The Standard Group PLC Jonathan Komen undergoes a Covid-19 test at the entrance at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya on July 01, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, The Standard]

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