With just days left to the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, athletes from various countries have pulled out all stops to ensure good performance in the global event.
And Americans have not been left behind. USA selected a strong team for the championship with a view to retaining the overall title they won in 2017 after bagging 30 medals, followed by Kenya who collected 11 medals.
Kenyan-born American athletes, Olympics 5,000 metres silver medallist Paul Chelimo, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei arrived in Kenya last month and have been camping at Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet.
They have been training in various parts of Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu counties ahead of their departure for Doha later this week. After competing in Doha, the three athletes will head to Vienna to pace for Eliud Kipchoge as the world marathon record holder attempts to run the marathon under two hours (INEOS 1:59 Challenge) on October 12.
Chelimo, who is eyeing men’s 5,000m title in Doha, is happy with his progress in training.
“I was named in Team USA, and my training in Kenya for the last one month has been good. I’m looking forward to a good run and to take the gold medal in the race,” Chelimo told Nation Sport at Kipchoge Keino Stadium.
Chelimo, who is also the 3,000m Continental Cup champion, said he is confident of a good performance in the 12-lap race.
“Going into the 2017 World Championships, somebody had stepped on me during the trials which slowed me down in the final race and I got bronze medal but I want to upgrade it to gold this year,” said Chelimo.
Chelimo said he chose to train in Iten to acclimatise to hot weather condition ahead of the race. He is alive to the tough test that awaits him in Doha, with the Commonwealth Games champion Joshua Cheptegei also in the mix.
“Cheptegei is a good athlete and I know he will be good on track but championships are a different thing. It has something to do with the mind. I might just be the one to win gold,” said Chelimo. He is saddened by the fact that athletes in North Rift region have no tracks for training, forcing them to shift to road races.
“In future there may be no good track athletes in Kenya because they don’t have facilities for training,” added the athlete. Kipchirchir, who will compete in men’s 10,000m race, expects a tough race but insists he has trained well and is targeting a podium finish.
“I’m looking forward to run a good race. Competing with the likes of Cheptegei from Uganda and Rhonex Kipruto from Kenya, the race will be fast and that’s what I prefer,” said the athlete.
Kipchirchir, from Kesses in Uasin Gishu County, finished 19th at the 2016 Olympic Games in 27:58.32. He improved the performance at the 2017 World Championships to finish ninth in 27:07.55.
Stanley Kebenei will compete in men’s 3,000m steeplechase where he is seeking to challenge Kenyans who have been dominating for years.
“Things have changed in steeplechase and anyone can win the race. I have trained and, although it will be tough, I believe I’m equal to the challenge,” said Kebenei who trains in Kenya before major events.
Their coach Scott Simmons who accompanied them to Iten said the athletes should perform better this year.
“The athletes have been doing well in training and they have been working very hard because they still feel they have a lot to achieve in their careers. The competition is getting tougher but we are prepared and looking forward to see the athletes get into the finals,” said Simmons.