Lilian Kasait on Thursday ended Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri’s two-year winning streak, making a last-gasp dash to claim the women’s 5000m title at the start of the Kenya’s Olympic trials.
Kasait, a 2017 World Cross-Country bronze medallist, shrugged off Obiri’s charge on the final lap to take victory in a fast race that saw eight athletes attain the Olympic qualifying time at the Kasarani stadium in Nairobi.
Injuries have beset Obiri, a two-time world champion, who has raced the half marathon, 3000m and 5000m since winning gold in Doha, September 2019. But the 26-year-old soldier took the defeat in her stride, saying she hoped to be fully fit for the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Games.
“Qualifying for the Olympics was the important thing for me,” Obiri said after finishing second in 14min 52:51sec.
“I am not worried about my performance since I have about 30 more days to train and prepare well.”
Olympic 1500m champion Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon breezed through qualification ahead of her former training mate Winny Chebet.
Chepngetich’s winning time of 4:02:10 was well outside her personal best 3:53:63 that she ran in Florence, Italy, a week ago.
She will be looking to renew her rivalry with reigning world 1500m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.
“It was really easy for me today. My focus is to defend my Olympic title in Tokyo. I know I will meet many good athletes in Tokyo, including Sifan, but I have prepared really well and ready for the challenge,” said Chepngetich.
Controversial Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala managed to earn his Olympic ticket when he ran the 100 metres in a national record of 10.02sec, shaving time off his old mark of 10.04.
Omanyala, who has been at loggerheads with Athletics Kenya (AK) and the National Olympic committee (NOCK) over his participation in the trials after serving a 14-month doping suspension in 2017, said he was relieved to have hit the qualifying time.
“Qualifying on home soil was a great gift God has given me this year. I cannot take it for granted,” the 25-year-old student said.—AFP