Fresh from bagging the Africa senior women’s cross country title, Celliphine Chespol has set her sights on winning gold in her 3,000m specialty at the Commonwealth Games next month.
Chespol, the world junior 3,000m steeplechase champion, was bullish about her prospects down under. “I have set my goal on winning the Commonwealth Games title. This was a good piece of preparations. I will rest for a couple of days before resuming training for the Games,” said Chespol.
Chespol spoke as the team received a rapturous reception at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport yesterday. She observed that the course at the African Cross Championships was muddy and tough but thanked the coaches for tipping her and her teammates correctly heading into the competition.
“The competition was very tough. I almost ruined my race when I thought I was in the last lap. I liked the course because it was designed for kind of cross country running,” said Chespol after her first victory at the senior ranks.
She observed that teamwork was crucial in ensuring that the team won the race. “We had planned the race well with Margaret Chelimo, Rosemary Njeri, Stacy Ndiwa, Perine NenKampi and Sandra Felis Chebet and our plans worked as we beat our competitors,” she added.
Chespol clocked 35:10 with Africa 5,000m champion Chelimo second in 35:13. Ethiopia’s Yeshi Kalayu was third in 35:26 while Ndiwa (35:27) and Chebet (35:47) finished fourth and sixth respectively as Kenya retained senior women’s title.
Alfred Barkach, winner of the men’s senior 10km event was also delighted to win the title in his first major outing for the country. “I am very delighted. Being my first ever international meeting for the country and to win and bring honour to this country is a great feeling,” noted Barkach
Barkach has set his sights on the Diamond League series which start in May by running the 10,000m. “I’m looking at running the Diamond League meetings and competing against the best in the world,” added Barkach. Head coach John Kimetto was satisfied with the team’s performance despite not winning the individual junior women’s race. “Our team did well but we need to start building our junior women’s team early if we are to match our rivals Ethiopia in the years to come,” said Kimetto.
Ronex Kipruto and Stanley Waithaka led a Kenyan 1-2 finish in the junior men’s 8km race after surging ahead of the pack early on.
Kipruto breasted the tape in 25:01 followed by Waithaka in 25:06 as Ethiopian Solomon Berihu came in third 25:08. Vincent Ng’etich, Edwin Bett, Edward Zakayo and Dominic Rotich were in sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth respectively to seal the team title for Kenya.
Ethiopian athletes Girmawit Gebru (20:40) and Tsige Selama (20:54) took the first and second positions in junior women’s 6km race as Kenya’s Hellen Ekalale (20:55) settled for third.
In the mixed relays category, Ethiopian athletes were too strong for the Kenyans after winning in 23:52 with Kenya coming in second in 24:15 ahead of Morocco, who timed 25:07.