Kenya youth runners opt out of Diamond League circuit

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Nairobi, June 7 (IANS) World Youth champions Celliphine Chespol and George Manangoi of Kenya will skip the Diamond League circuit to focus on the world U-20 championships in Tampere, Finland next month.

However, the two will have to prove their fitness and talent at the Kenya trials for the U-20 championships, which will be held on June 12 here, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I have gained a lot in tactics and experience after competing in the two Diamond League races in Doha and Rome. There will be no show for me in Oslo, Stockholm and Paris,” Manangoi said on Wednesday.

He revealed that he picked up a strain muscle injury in Rome, but has been successful to run it off and is looking forward to the national trials.

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“I got a slight injury in Rome last week, but it is of no concern now. I will run it off and face my rivals in Nairobi. My target is to get gold at world under-20 event and add that to my under-18 title,” said Manangoi, who is the younger brother to world 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi.

Kenya is expected to pick a strong squad to the global meet, formerly known as the world junior championships, eyeing to wrest the overall crown from the grip of the United States.

Two years ago in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Kenya finished second with nine medals (five gold, two silver and two bronze) behind United States, who collected 11 gold, six silver, and four bronze medals.

Athletics Kenya Youth Committee chairman Barnaba Korir said preparations for the trials are complete and assured the country will have the latest talent on show, capable of sweeping the medals at the global stage.

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“They are the best from our youth structures and school system. It is their chance to stake claim to the national team ticket and show the world their ability as they launch the professional careers in athletics,” Korir said.

The world under-20 championships will be staged from July 10-15. Athletics Kenya will also engage the young runners in a symposium on anti-doping and what they need to avoid.

“We will hold talks on avoiding doping. They need to learn. We will also vet their documents to ascertain their age,” he added.

Among the top names expected to sail through include Manangoi and Chespol. Others are Edward Zakayo in 5,000m, Africa junior cross country champion Rhonex Kipruto in 10,000m, Jackline Wambui and Lydia Jeruto in 800m, Stanley Waithaka (5,000m) and world U-18 walk bronze medalist Dominic Ndigiti.

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–IANS

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