NAIROBI, July 12 (AFP) - In-form Commonwealthsteeplechase silver medallist Ezekiel Kemboi set out hisWorld Championships ambitions as he won the Kenyannational title on Saturday.
After worries over recent poor showings by Kenyanrunners, officials and coaches are finally beginning tosmile ahead of next month’s championships in Paris.
While some of the big stars decided to skip thenational championships and compete in the lucrativeGrand Prix races in Europe, those who have opted toreturn and train at home gave a good account ofthemselves during the three-day championships.
Kemboi, 22, after winning four of the six EuropeanGrand Prix races he has competed in, returned home tocompete in the nationals and became one of five runnersto share the one million shilling (13,500 dollar)jackpot.
The silver medallist at last year’s ManchesterCommonwealth Games, who trains in the high performancecentre in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret, won therace in the modest time of 8:21.7.
He said his aim was to join the long list of Kenyansteeplechasers to win the world title.
``That’s my goal for this year. I will go back toEurope to compete in two events and return home for theworld championships trials on July 25-26,’’ said theformer African champion.
Kemboi will likely face the former world recordholder, Bernard Barmasai, who opted out of thechampionships to concentrate on his comeback trail forthe trials, and Abraham Cherono, who finished second inthe race.
The 1997 world champion Wilson Boit Kipketer fadedbadly and is now doubtful for the trials.
The 5,000 metres commonwealth champion Sammy Kipketermaintained his dominance over fellow soldier BenjaminLimo to win his speciality with the world 10,000 metreschampion, Charles Kamathi, taking third place.
Two-time world cross country four-kilometre champion,Edith Masai, 37, made her intentions known when she blewpast early pacesetter, Isabella Ochichi to win thewomen’s 5,000 metres.
Masai plans to tune up for the trials by competing intwo Grand Prix events.