competing in Berlin athletics worlds
SPORTS WRITERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE STRUGGLING TO FIND
SUITABLE SUPERLATIVES TO PEN MASAI’S CONTINUED RISE AS ONE
OF GLOBE’S MOST FORCEFUL FEMALE DISTANCE RUNNING MARVELS
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- As the circus revolved around selection of the Kenyan 10,000m team for the World Championships in Berlin, one factor remained constant—Linet Masai will compete..
The faith bestowed on the shoulders of the 20-year-old rising distance running phenomenon is at an all time high since she is only female runner assured of the country’s prized 10,000m ticket.
For a nation that prides itself as a mid- and long-distance global dominance force, readiness by Athletics Kenya (AK) to enter the World Cross silver winner as the only 10,000m female runner bespeaks volumes of her progression in only her third year of competition.
On Wednesday AK chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat made the odd statement:
"We are prepared to field only Linet if no other athlete selected after the 5,000m Trials is capable of doubling."
He was speaking after ruling out inclusion of Lineth Chepkurui, the World Cross fourth finisher who finished second to Masai at the 10,000m Berlin Trials on June 27.
Sports writers around the world are struggling to find suitable superlatives to pen Masai’s continued rise as one of the globe’s most forceful female distance running marvels.
Already, she has already won World Cross junior gold (Mombasa 2007) and World Cross senior bronze (Edinburgh 2008) and silver (Amman 2009) medals.
On her maiden appearance at the largest sporting carnival on the planet, the Olympics in Beijing last August, Masai finished a credible fourth in a world junior record time of 30:26.50.
The soft spoken but friendly youngster born in the strife hit Kapsakwony, Mount Elgon District has been her country’s most consistent challenger to the might of the Ethiopians at global competitions.
It is the third time in her short career that AK are showing undying faith in Masai.
Last year, a foot injury saw her finish seventh at the 10,000m Beijing Trials but the federation granted her the wildcard.
In March, when Masai finished outside the top-ten after suffering a stitch at Amman World Cross Trials, AK, again granted her wildcard entry.
She reciprocated the faith by winning the second medal behind compatriot Florence Kiplagat.
At the slow women’s 10,000m Berlin Trial final at the New KCC/AK National Championships, Masai dispelled the need for the federation to grant her outside selection.
She was the only female athlete who had beaten the 31:00.0 A-Standard qualifications at the time who fulfilled the requirement of finishing among the top-two to gain automatic entry.
She won in 32:49.3 after running unchallenged in the last three laps.
"I will try my best to perform well.
"I always feel happy to represent my country and I have two months before Berlin that I intend to use for preparation here."
Masai has had a shining opening to the track season that has seen her upset the seemingly invincible double Olympic champion, Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) at the Reebok Grand Prix (14:35.39) on May 22.
Another highlight is setting a personal best over 5,000m (14:34.36) at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting where she lost first place by a few kicks to Africa champion, Meselech Melkamu.
"I will try to handle them (Ethiopians) in Berlin. I’m more experienced now and although I cannot say I will beat Dibaba or any of them at the World Championships, I’m happy with the way my career is shaping," Masai said.
To beat Kenya’s biggest adversaries, Masai reveals:
"You have to start pushing early and run strong since they can finish you with their kick and that requires serious training."
Second finisher at Berlin Trials, Lineth Chepkurui, is yet to gain Berlin qualification while third and fourth placed Philes Ongori and Peninah Arusei who have World Championship entry times were considered by AK to "Be too far behind to be considered," as Kiplagat said.
The fourth born in family of six, the second of Masai Trilogy of athletics was lured into athletics by her elder brother Moses Ndiema Masai who did the 5,000m and 10,000m double at the 2005 Africa Junior Championships (and her 20-year-old brother, Dennis Masai, was third in a cross country meeting in Nairobi last year).
On Wednesday, Moses, who finished fourth at the 10,000m Trials was included in the squad after winner Sammy Kitwara and second finisher, Gideon Ngatuny were stripped off heir places.
At last year’s Olympics, he finished fourth in the 10,000m final where a split timing decision caused him bronze in favour of compatriot and world 10K record holder, Micah Kogo after both ran 27:04.11. Kogo was also included in the Berlin 10,000m.
Another serving of the prowess of the Masai running engines awaits Berlin where Linet’s finest hour may be in the offing