Wed, 31 May 2023

NAIROBI, 25 (Xinhua) -- Five reigning world champions are among the 45 athletes selected Saturday to represent Kenya at the 2022 World Athletics Championships to be held next month in Eugene, Oregon of the United States.

Athletics Kenya (AK) named the team following the conclusion of the two-day joint national trials for Oregon 2022 and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

The World Championships will run from July 15-24 with the Commonwealth Games following shortly afterward from July 28 to August 8.

Women's 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri could attempt the double after winning the women's 10,000m in 31:49.88 on Friday.

"I don't have another road race until November, so I decided to go for the defence of my title. Our focus will be working with the coaches to rectify our mistakes and work as a team to take on the Ethiopians," the Olympics silver medalist told reporters.

Ruth Chepng'etich (women's marathon), Beatrice Chepkoech (women's 3,000m steeplechase), Conseslus Kipruto (men's 3,000m steeplechase), and Timothy Cheruiyot (men's 1,500m) will return to defend their crowns at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Olympic champions Emmanuel Korir (men's 800m) and Faith Chepng'etich Kipyegon (women's 1500m) also made the squad.

"I lost my title to Sifan Hassan in 2019 and my aim is to go to Oregon and win it back for my country," two-time Olympic champion Kipyego said after stepping down the distance and finishing second in the women's 800m 1:58.18.

The two-day selection event was restricted in the number of athletes invited owing to the anti-doping requirements set by World Athletics.

Kenya is listed as a Category-A country due to the spike in doping cases, meaning that runners from the country must have conducted three tests, one out of the competition to be eligible for the World Championships.

The development saw all events contested become straight finals.

Sprint sensation and African men's 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa could not equal the 9:85 he ran at the same stadium in May as a -2.3m/s headwind slowed the field on Saturday.

Omanyala won the last event of the trials in 10.03 much to the delight of the sparse crowd led by Kenya's First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

Having become the first Kenyan to run in the men's 100m Olympics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year, Omanyala is now keen on making more history in Oregon.

"Today we could not run fast due to the conditions but what remains is to train hard and do my country proud," said Omanyala who will also run at the Commonwealth Games.

On Friday, Mary Moraa ran a blistering personal best of 1:57.58 to beat Kipyegon and African champion Jarinter Mawia (2:00.36) to the podium.

Moraa, who will also compete in the women's 400m Hurdles will be joined in the two-lap race in Oregon by Mawia and Naomi Korir who was given a wildcard.

"I was not sure I would do so well here since I had a fever last week and my target is to first make the finals at the World Championships and then fight for a medal," Moraa said.

The Moscow 2013 world champion Eunice Sum propped the field in sixth with a result of 2:07.67.

The corresponding men's 800m was won by 2018 Commonwealth champion Wycliffe Kinyamal in 1:43.54 after edging a thrilling battle for the line against world under-20 titleholder Emmanuael Wanyonyi (1:44.01).

Elias Ngeny (1:44.05) finished third while Olympic silver medalist Ferguson Rotich (1:48.20) struggled to keep up with the pace of his young challengers to finish 11th.

Olympic champion Korir, who was included in the men's 400m squad after winning the lap race in 44.87 on Friday, and Cornelius Tuwei were given wildcards to join Kinyamal and Wanyonyi in the Oregon men's 800m team but only three will travel.

World champion and Olympics silver winner Timothy Cheruiyot (3:34.49) was beaten to second by Abel Kipsang (3:34.59) in the men's 1,500m trial on Saturday in a lung-bursting finish to the thrilling race.

Former world U20 champion Kumari Taki (3:34.73) finished third and sixth finisher Charles Simotwo (3:37.35) got the wildcards.

In the women's 1,500m, Kipyegon will be joined by 2018 African champion Winnie Chebet, who won Friday's trial in 4:11.12, runner-up Edinah Jebitok (4:11.87), and Judy Kiyeng (4:13.41) who finished fifth but was given the wild card.

Other athletes, such as the Beijing 2015 World Championships men's Javelin gold medalist Julius Yego, are waiting for the close of the World Athletics qualifying time window on Sunday to know whether they will compete in Oregon as Area champions.

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