Athletics Kenya to send strong team to World Indoors

Nairobi, Jan 3 (IANS) Athletics Kenya (AK) hope to improve their performance at the World Indoor Championships which will be held in Portland, US, from March 17 to 20.

AK vice-president Barnaba Korir said they intend to send a bigger team and hope they will get better results than two years ago in Sopot, Poland, where Kenya were 10th with just one gold (Caleb Mwangangi) and one silver medal (Helen Obiri), reports Xinhua.

However, Korir noted that there will be no trials to select the team and that they will focus on results attained in indoor circuit in Europe and the US to pick a team of at least 10.

Defending 3,000-metre champion Mwangangi confirmed that he is keen to hold on to his title and test his preparedness ahead of the Rio Olympics in August. Only Mwangangi and Obiri won medals for Kenya two years ago from a team of eight.

“We will get the names for the athletes interested and rank them according to their time performance or their current form and the final two in each category will earn a place in the team,” said Korir on Saturday.

Obiri will be aiming to return to fitness after a year’s sabbatical to give birth and hopes her return will be boosted by a medal in Portland. Obiri was Kenya’s sole reigning World Indoor Champion two years ago and though she lost her gold to Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, she is still hopeful to reclaim the 3,000m title she won four years ago in Istanbul.

Some of the athletes keen to compete for Kenya include former World Indoor silver medallist Augustine Choge (3,000m) together with Mwangangi, and 2011 World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat, who contests his specialist event of 1,500m.

“The showpiece is nearer and we are set to select the team in January as the event only takes fewer participants unlike the other championships,” said Korir.

Kenya will be represented in 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m and field events. The athletes will gauge their fitness prior to turning their focus at the Rio Olympics.

“It will be a good testing ground for the track and field athletes who also wish to make a cut into the Team Kenya for Olympics. I believe it will be a platform to achieve better time performances,” he said.

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