In an abridged event characterised by low turn out, Uganda’s Agnes Aneno lit up the 5th National Bank of Kenya/Athletics Kenya Track and Field series meet by completing her third victory on the trot in the women’s lap race.
It’s not only the legs of 2009 World Youth bronze medallist that impressed in the two-day affair that ended Saturday at Shanzu Teachers Training College Grounds but her demeanour off the track as well.
Elsewhere, Olympic women’s 800m champion, Pamela Jelimo, continued her rehabilitation ahead of her Samsung Diamond League opener at the Prefontaine Classic on 4 June with a third place finish in the 400m.
Absence of distance events the country is renowned for robbed the Mombasa meet of the lustre witnessed at the preceding rounds in Kisii, Narok and Mumias with registered entries not topping 300.
Despite lying at sea-level elevation, the punishing humidity of Kenya’s tourism hub that hosted the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships saw organisers decide against hosting distance races with sprints, field, relays and track events up to 800m taking centre stage.
Hailing from a country labelled the ‘Pearl of Africa’ Aneno, who celebrated her 19th birthday on 5 May, is staking a strong claim to be the next gem of Uganda’s athletics.
Her drive saw her cross the border and take on Kenya’s at their backyard and after opening her campaign with a second finish at the first meet in Kisumu, Aneno completed her third straight women 400m win at Shanzu’s water logged murram track in 56.4. She won the distance in Kisii and Mumias.
“Kenya is so competitive and that is why my coach decided to sponsor me to come here,” she began as her trainer, James Mugeni, stood close by.
“When I come to Kenya and beat champion runners, it means I’m good and that is the motivation I need. I’m looking forward to running faster times and qualifying for the World Championships and Olympics next year,” Aneno stressed with a charming smile that illuminated her dark face.
Behind her, Grace Kidake dipped in 56.7 for second with Jelimo, the 2007 Africa Junior champion over the distance, coming in with 57.2 to share the podium.
“I have had a tough two seasons but coming here to run in 200m and 400m is to help me get the speed that I need in 800m. I feel stronger and I’m getting ready of making an impact at the Prefontaine Classic,” the Olympic titleholder stated. ?Asked whether she could replicate her 2008 form that made her the breakout female track runner of the year, Jelimo observed, “After such a hard period in my career, I’m taking everything slowly. I do not want to put myself under pressure by saying I will do this, or I will do that.”
Sprints, hurdles, 800m
Joy Zakari celebrated a much welcomed return to form by clinching the women 100m and 200m sprint double. Having stuttered through last season with injury that saw her sit out her home Africa Athletics Championships, Zakari topped the 100m dash in 12.6 with Milicent Ndolo (12.8) and Maryline Chelagat (13.0) coming in second and third.
The same finishing order was registered in the 200m with the winner posting 25.6 against 26.3 and 26.6 from the challengers.
Collins Mulaa won the men 100m in 10.9 with Simon Kimaru (11.1) and Wellington Nyakundi (11.3) following the winner home before the latter picked himself up to win the 200m in 22.8 ahead of Stephen Baraza (23.0) and Boniface Khagai (23.1).
Moses Kertich was the victor in the men’s lap race after stopping the timer at 48.4 with Kennedy Chepsigor (48.7) and Gilbert Ngeno (49.0) sealing the top three.
Emmanuel Kimeu (53.3) was the runaway winner in the men’s 400m Hurdles.
Francis Kakonzi charged away from Richard Mutai in the last 300m to seal victory in the men’s 800m in 1:53.5. Mutai (1:53.5) held on for second with Titus Mutai racing 1:54.2 for bronze.
The distance running heartland of Iten will host the series finale on 27 and 28 May paving way for district, provincial and institutional championships.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for IAAF
SELECT RESULTS (all hand-timed): MEN -
100m 1. Collins Mulaa 10.9 2. Simon Kimaru 11.1 3. Wellington Nyakundi 11.3