NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Kenya has picked up the gauntlet thrown
by Caribbean and European countries in field event and
sprint competition and will counter any challenge to its
dominance of the World Under-18 Championships, which
starts in Nairobi on Wednesday.
country has a team of 46, only bettered by China who
have a contingent of 51 athletes, and is aiming to
improve on their last performance where they bagged 13
medals - five gold, four silver and four bronze from a
team of 25 athletes - when the curtains rises on the
Captain David Saruni has pledged to lead from the front,
albeit in an event that is not Kenya’s fort. Saruni is
out to prove that Kenya can be a force to reckon with in
sprints by sealing a podium finish in boys’ 400m
“I want to
follow in the footsteps of World 400m hurdles champion
Nicholas Bett by making history on home soil,” said
Saruni. “I want to be the first Kenyan to win a world
title in sprints at this edition of youth competition.”
eyes will be on exciting South African prospect
Sokwakhana Zazini in the one-lap contest over the
barriers, Saruni is biting his time to stage an ambush
in the final straight to steal the gold.
set a world U18 best of 48.84 seconds in Pretoria on
March 17, is the only athlete in the entry lists to have
run faster than 51 seconds.
formidable athlete in the flat 400m sprint, he will
focus on the hurdles discipline with his eyes firmly
focused on the clock.
strongest challenges could come from Kenya’s Naadokila
Moitalel Mpoke, who holds a personal best of 51.20 and
also Ismail Manyani of Morocco (51.83) and Asian youth
champion Halomoan Edwin Binsar of Indonesia (51.96).
he has had the best training under legendary coach Rose
Tata-Muya since the team entered camp three weeks ago.
gained courage and skills to attack the hurdles. I am
going for gold and as the captain I should lead by
example,” said Saruni. “I’m targeting sub-50 seconds at
the world youth event before focusing on qualifying for
the World Under-20 Championships next year in a new
event will be the 800m race, where he hopes he will take
over the aging Olympic champion David Rudisha.