Once again, Kenya faces the huge task of stopping Ethiopians in the Women’s 3000m steeplechase final at the World Under 20 Athletics Championships staged at the Moi Sports Complex, Kasarani.
Jackline Chepkoech and Faith Cherotich need to ensure Kenya retains its respect and a place on the throne in the ‘traditional’ steeplechase race by defending the crown won by Celiphine Chespol in Tampere in 2018.
Chepkoech was on top of her game when she won trials in 9minutes, 32.99 seconds, with training partner Cherotich coming in second after clocking 9minutes, 33.02 seconds.
“My ambition is to win this title. I am really confident especially with how I feel my body is and this will be the beginning of a good career for me. I’m not worried about our opponents, I will just run my race,” said Chepkoech.
However, the growing strength of Ethiopian steeplechase squad should be worrying for Kenya. Their rivals have entered Zerfe Wondemagegn, who holds the best time of 9:16.41, that she claimed when she finished 8th in the Olympic final earlier in June.
Wondemagegn will be in the company of Emebet Kebede while Morocco, another distance powerhouse, have entered Soukaina Elhaji who should also pose a threat to the Kenyans.
Hungary’s Greta Varga will lead the European charge. The 17-year-old was a silver medallist at the European U20 Championships last month with a best time of 9:50.63.
Meanwhile, Athletics Kenya Youth Development Chairman Barnaba Korir has assured Kenyans of good results and asked them not to worry about opening day results, where Kenyans were floored by Ethiopians in men’s 3000m finals.
“Remember Kenya is the World Under-20 defending champion, we still have many days of the championships and we will get good results that will enable us to defend the title,” said Korir.