Big guns missing but Zakayo, Moraa add spice to All Africa Games qualifiers

Amos Abuga @PeopleSports11

World 1,500m champion Elijah Manang’oi and two-time Diamond League Trophy winner Timothy Cheruiyot were the notable absentees during day one of the All Africa Games trials at Kasarani Stadium yesterday.

In the absence of the duo,  World Under-20 champion George Manang’oi, Elijah’s younger brother,  clocked 3:45.15 to win the 1,500m followed by Benard Kipkirui (3:45.18),  Boaz Kipkurgat (3:45.22) and Jonathan Sawe (3:45.98) in second, third and fourth positions. 

The second semi-final was slightly faster which was won by Eliud Kipsang in 3:43.82 with Nixon Chepseba in second place after clocking  3:44.32, Jeremiah Kiptanui (3:44.37) in third while Vincent Keter (3:45.11) and James Magut (3:45.28) took fourth and fifth positions respectively.

Coach Benard Ouma of Rongai Athletics Club came to the defence of the missing duo. “We have Diamond League meetings in Birmingham, Paris and Zurich. After that, there is  the World Championships. My athletes are currently preparing for those events,” said Ouma.

In the women’s 400m, Mary Moraa, the Africa Under-20 champion advanced to the finals after clocking 52.84 ahead of Maureen Thomas 53.24 and Niviah Michira who came in third in a time of 55.15. Moraa is determined to graduate to the seniors in style by winning gold in Morocco.

In the second semi-final, Hellen Syumbua was in a class of her own,  clocking 51.66 for victory with Gladys Nthenya in second place (53.76) while Africa Under-18 silver medallist Linda Kageha was third (54.73) to also book a slot in the finals.

Former world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei will stage her comeback from maternity today and is hoping for a winning return. “I feel time is right for me to return. I have had quality time with my daughter who will be turning three in the next two months,” said Jepkosgei.

Meanwhile, World Under-20 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo and US-based 800m specialists Emmanuel Korir and Michael Saruni are the other athletes who will be mixing the trials today.  Sports Cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed opened the event.