Kenyan men are on a mission to recapture the 10,000m title when the Olympic Games get underway in Tokyo, Japan, on July 23-August 8.
It is a huge task as 2015 world 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworor and Commonwealth Games 10,000m bronze medallist Rogers Kwemoi lead the men’s hunt for the crown that has eluded the nation for 53 years.
Yesterday, Kamworor and Kwemoi staged a brilliant show at Kasarani Stadium that wowed a sizeable crowd that included Deputy President William Ruto.
Kamworor, who is known in athletics circles as an athlete of all surfaces having won excelled in cross country, track and marathon, will no doubt respond when called upon in Tokyo.
He stormed into the lead mid-way through the race yesterday and controlled the race even as Kwemoi and Rhonex Kipruto kept close tabs in a high pace. Kipruto fell off the lead before dropping out.
With spectators on their feet, Kamworor deployed the afterburners with a killer sprint that Kwemoi could not respond.
He won in 27:01.06, the best 10,000m mark set on Kenyan soil. Kwemoi, who is also the 2016 world junior 10,000m champion, checked in second 27:05.51 ahead of Weldon Kirui (27:24.73), Collins Koros (27:25.56) and Daniel Mateiko (27:27.98).
Not bad for a man who started running while a Standard Six pupil at Chepsamo Primary School in Keiyo South.
“I had trained well with Kwemoi in Kaptagat. He is my friend and I know his potential. The race was quite tough and that’s why could see such crazy times at Kasarani.
“I have trained well. And I hope we are ready for the opposition and we don’t underrate anyone. We will embrace teamwork as we struggle to recapture the title,” said Kamworor.
Kamworor seems to follow American actor Michael Cadena’s counsel: “Take the bull by the horns until you have it screaming for mercy.”
“I know we will face stiff competition in Tokyo but I am ready for the challenge. I have won nearly everything in athletics but I miss an Olympic medal. Tokyo provides an opportunity to fight for this medal.
“Training with Eliud Kipchoge has really encouraged me. I have picked on well since I recovered from the motorcycle accident,” he said.
Kamworor will face Uganda’s world champion Joshua Cheptegei, who is also under Global Sports Management stable.
“I know and understand some of these strong athletes from other countries. We will plan well and see if we can deliver the elusive 10,000m gold medal. We need a little bit of polishing,” he said.
Kwemoi said he has picked some vital experience in championship races.
“At least I can handle high pressure races. I hope to win a medal in Tokyo,” he said.
Most of the notable names fell by wayside in the 10,000m duel. They include 2012 Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Edwin Soi and 2012 Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Abel Mutai.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s 4x400m mixed relay squad standings at the global stage improved to 16th after yesterday’s trials.
Stephen Mwaniki, sprints coach, said: “The teams did well. We leapfrogged Belarus. We hope to make it to the Olympics.”