Nairobi, July 12 (IANS) The pressure that comes with being Kenya athletics team captain will not wear down World Junior 5,000m silver medallist Emmaculate Chepkirui from her ambition to break a world record on home soil.
Chepkirui is aware that her senior Kenya team members will be watching from the stands and as a sign of morale, she wants to send them to the London World Championships in August with a clear message, that of a champion, reports Xinhua news agency.
At stake is the 10-year-old 3,000m record of 8:53.94, set by former World Championships silver medallist Mercy Cherono in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Cherono has stood out as a pillar of hope to Chepkirui. But with her not making the Kenya team to Landon, Chepkirui has devoted her time to write her own piece of history at the World Under-18 Championships.
“I have always wanted to be like her. Conquer my fears and rivals in the youth and junior stage before graduating to the senior ranks. Cherono broke the youth record and no one has done it until now. I have been thinking about it for some time and I believe I have the best form to carry that assignment out,” she said.
However, she warned that she will not be stupid to focus her energy on a world record at the expense of winning Kenya a gold medal.
“What matters is the gold. The record will fall, depending on my strategy. But it is winning gold that I put first,” she added.
Chepkirui is not alone –every member of the Kenya team is out to carve a niche for themselves.
In the men’s side, David Saruni, who was motivated by 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist Boniface Mucheru and World Champion Nicholas Bett to race in the 400m hurdles, is also eying the coveted world title.
Saruni’s main focus will be to put his best foot forward during the 400m hurdles heats on day two of the competition in the afternoon.
“Bett and Mucheru are a revolution for us. We never imagined a Kenyan ruling the sprint races. They have done it and we have just to take cue and do it,” he said.
“We did not know much about the blocks and the hurdles techniques but now we know enough to be world beaters.”
A total of 131 teams bringing in over 2,000 athletes will be competing in Nairobi for the five-day event, which is the last before the IAAF shifts to continental championships.
Kenya, who won the overall title in Poland and Italy, want to win the third crown at home to crown off a successful performance at the championships.
Seven countries have pulled out, including defending champions the US, Japan, Switzerland, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.