No major upsets as Imali, Manang’oi, Korir star


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World under-20 1500m champion George Manang’oi won his heat to easily sail through to the final of the men’s 1500m as no major upsets were recorded on the first day of the African Games Athletics trials at Kasarani on Thursday.

National 400m champion Emmanuel Korir, who specialises in 800m won his 400m semi-final heat alongside former national champion Alphas Kishoyian, Kennedy Kimeu and Joseph Phogiso, who also eased through to the final.

World 4x400m mixed relay bronze medallist Hellen Syombua and Africa Uunder-20 400m champion Mary Moraa hit the African Games qualifying times of 51.66 and 52.84 seconds to reach the final.

National 100m record holder Maximilla Imali also hit the African Games qualifying marks when winning the women’s 100m semi-final race in 11.64 seconds besides and also won the women’s long jump with a 6.43 metre effort.

In fact, Imali’s jump should have qualified as a national record, having surpassed the previous record distance of 6.39m but Athletics Kenya director of competition Paul Mutwii said it could not be ratified owing to some technicalities including lack of a wind gauge.

World under-20 and Africa 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo eased to second place in the men’s 5000m second semi-final to qualify for the final set for Saturday.

Fresh from winning in Rabat on Sunday, Zakayo, the Commonwealth 5000m bronze medallist, finished second in 13 minutes, 44.8 seconds, losing the battle to Robert Kiprop in 13 minutes, 44.1 seconds.

Richard Kimunyan won the first 5000m semi-final in 13 minutes, 57.78 seconds.

Manang’oi, the Africa under-20 1500m champion clocked three minutes, 45.15 seconds, beating Bernard Kipkorir and Boaz Kiprugut in three minutes, 45.18 seconds and three minutes, 45.22 seconds as they all qualified for the final.

“It was a good race. I took it easy since I’m recovering from a left thigh hamstring,” said Manangoi. “I am focused on the African Games since it will be my first senior event.”

Eliud Kipsang won the second semi-final in three minutes, 43.82 seconds to brush off experienced Nixon Chepseba and Jeremiah Kiptanui in three minutes, 44.32 seconds and three minutes, 44.32 seconds.

Syombua, who is the only Kenyan woman to have qualified for the World Championships planned for Doha later this year, timed 51.66 seconds to win her 400m semi-final as Gladys Musyoki settled second in 53.76 seconds with Linda Kageha returning 54.73 seconds for third. Syombua and Musyoki surpassed the Africa Games qualifying time of 54.6 seconds.

“It’s not that easy but I am taking every race seriously as I build up for the World championships,” said Syombua.

Moraa won her semi-final in 52.84 seconds beating Maureen Thomas to second in 53.24 as they too attained times for the African Games.

Korir cruised to victory in 46.4 to see off Said Ruto in 46.8 and Joseph Sarare in 47.6. He disclosed that he is using the 400m race for speed as he looks forward to getting the 800m ticket to the World Championships.

“I want to go on and win the 400m at the African Games,” said Korir.

Kishoyian clocked 46.8 seconds to win the second heat as the second heat went to Kimeu in 46.6 seconds while Phogisio claimed the third heat in 46.9 seconds.

Imali stormed to victory in the women’s 100m in 11.3 seconds to win the first heat as national 100m champion Joan Cherono timed 11.9 seconds to reign supreme in the second semi-final.

African Games 100m silver medallist Eunice Kadogo won the third heat in 11.7 seconds.