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Kenyan standards too low ahead of Worlds, warns Kirwa

10 July 2015, 11:33

Nairobi-Kenyan athletics head coach Julius Kirwa is alarmed at the low standards three weeks before the national trials for August's Beijing World championships.

The sport has in the recent past been hit by doping scandals, administrative problems and the majority of athletes have struggled to hit top form ahead of the Beijing Worlds.

With most of the top stars away competing in Thursday's Lausanne Diamond League, the rest of the athletes turned out to fight for places at the start of the three-day national championships at the Kasarani stadium on Thursday.

"I am not happy with the performances displayed by our athletes, they have a lot of work to do. Things don't look good at all," said Kirwa, who was hired by Athletics Kenya (AK) last month to return and coach the team for the August 22-30 championships.

Former world 5000m and 10000m champion and Olympic medallist Vivian Cheruiyot, on the comeback trail after two years of maternity leave, qualified for Friday's semi-finals in the shorter 1,500 metre race.

The 30-year-old, who returned to the track with a third-place finish in the 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon in May, was fifth fastest in the preliminary round. She won her heat in 4:17.92

Winfried Mbithe set the fastest time of 4:15.68 in winning the first heat, ahead of Sella Jepleting (4:16.27) and Judith Kiyeng, who timed 4:16.43 in third place.

Commonwealth 1500m men's champion James Magut, suffering the effects of a fever flu, battled to take second place behind newcomer Alex Lagat in his preliminary.

With the reigning World 3,000m steeplechase champion Milka Chemos out injured for the rest of the year, teenage sensation and world youth gold medallist Rosefline Chepngetich looks likely to replace her in Beijing.

Chepngetich, 18, comfortably led the qualifiers into Friday's final when she won her heat in 9min 50.7sec.

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