Men’s 5000m will definitely come down to a Kenyan versus Ethiopian affair as the host nation seeks to defend the 1-2 titles they won in Tampere, Finland in 2018.
In Tampere, Edward Zakayo and Stanley Waithaka hammered home gold and silver medals respectively in men’s 5000m final.
Zakayo, who was also the world under-18 and Commonwealth Games 5000m silver medallist, destroyed the then pre-race favourite Selemon Barega of Ethiopia, who had to settle for fourth place.
Levi Kibet (13:26.11) and Benson Kiplangat (13:40.41) will have the responsibility of ensuring the country is in the medal bracket when then line up for the final today at 4:30pm.
Ethiopia has entered a sub-13-minute man in Addisu Yihune who goes into the final ranked 25 seconds clear of his closest rival based on personal bests. Yihune narrowly missed Olympic qualification when he finished fourth in the Ethiopian trials in Hengelo in June, clocking 12:58.99. He will have compatriot Mebrahtu Werkineh, who has a best of 13:41.92, for company in the final.
Eritrea’s Habtom Keleta, who clocked 13:23.15 this year, will be another runner in search for podium slots. Ugandans will also spice up the race.
In the women’s 3000m final, Kenya entered a strong squad consisting of Japan-based Teresia Muthoni and Zenah Chemutai.
“I have the experience of doing well, having represented the country in three international events. In Tampere, I was the only Kenyan in the final and I was police-making the Ethiopian while the Japanese had other intentions by running aggressively and taking the 1-2 positions. I finished fourth. Running at home will give us little advantage and we hope to deliver podium positions,” said Chemutai, who trains in Iten.
Muthoni is the quickest entrant with the 8:51.69 she ran in Nairobi in July and also has good 5000m form, clocking 15:06.76. Chemutai, a fourth-place finisher in Tampere in 2018 and Africa junior 3000m champion, has run 8:55.75 this year.
The hosts will challenge Uganda, who are represented by Prisca Chesang, a 9:04.15 performer this season.
South Africa’s Carmie Prinsloo won’t be far from the medals.