NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto and fellow world titleholders Elijah Manangoi and Hellen Obiri will lead the star-studded Kenyan track and field team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Athletics Kenya (AK) selected 60 athletes on Saturday following the conclusion of the Commonwealth trials in Nairobi with former world champions Julius Yego and Nicholas Bett also included in the squad.
Rio 2016 Olympics silver medallist Yego and Jonathan Muia Ndiku are the only gold winners from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland who will return to seek their second Games titles.
While Yego will line up in his men Javelin speciality, Ndiku who won the 3000m steeplechase gold in Scotland has since stepped up the distance to 10,000m as he bids to make history as the first Kenyan to bag Commonwealth gold at two events.
The team that will be led by head coach Japheth Kemei, is out to beat their record performance at the event in Delhi 2010 where the track and field squad brought home 11 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze, having minted 10 gold, 10 silver and three bronze in Scotland to top the athletics charts for the second successive edition.
World marathon masters’ record holder (40-44 years), Kenneth Mburu Mungara, 44, is the eldest member of the team as he returns to the Australian city he won the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon title in 2:08:42.
Kipruto, who added the world 3,000m steeplechase title to his Rio 2016 Olympics crown was among the big names given a wildcard by AK for Gold Coast having falling ill on the eve of the Trials on Friday upon arrival to Nairobi from his Eldoret base.
“I wanted to compete and make it to the squad for Australia but after becoming sick, I requested AK for the wildcard,” the former world Under 18 champion stated.
He was paired with 2016 world under 20 champion Amos Kirui and African bronze winner Abraham Kibiwott with the 23-year-old Olympic winner hoping to inspire another Kenyan 3,000m steeplechase medal sweep achieved by Jonathan Ndiku, Jairus Birech and Ezekiel Kemboi in that order at Glasgow 2014.
Manangoi who was beaten at the Kenyan trials on Saturday by training partner and London 2017 worlds silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot as well as Obiri are keen to add the Commonwealth men 1,500m and women 5,000m crowns to their medal collection after a barnstorming season last year where they won their first senior world titles.
Yego who threw 83.87m to beat London 2012 Olympics champion Kershorn Walcott to the gold in Scotland is aiming at rediscovering his form after an injury-plagued 2017 saw him miss out on the podium in the defence of his world title.
Bett, who stunned the world when he won the men 400m hurdles gold medal at Beijing 2015, returns to the Kenyan team after missing out on a title defence in London through injury.
He will run alongside twin brother Aron Koech, the 2016 African bronze winner with Willy Mbevi the third Kenyan men 400m hurdler for Gold Coast.
African women’s 20km racing walking record holder Grace Wanjiru and Matthew Sawe who won the African men high jump crown in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016 also made the squad. Enditem