Cherotich, Chepkoech bag steeplechase slots to Paris

World 3000m steeplechase bronze medalist Faith Cherotich will make her Olympic debut in Paris where she carries Kenya’s hopes to reclaim the title alongside world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech.

Cherotich, the reigning U20 champion, pipped an unbothered Beatrice at the finish, as the duo got the automatic places in 9:22.28 and 9:22.76 respectively.

Commonwealth Games champion Jackline Chepkoech was third in 9:34.86 and here fate lies with the selection panel.

The trio proved too strong for the rest of the field as, after just two laps, the field was split into two with Beatrice leading a quartet of Cherotich, Jackline and Diana Chepkemoi.

One more lap and Chepkemoi was dropped leaving the trio to battle as Jackline took charge of the race. Her lead was, however, shortlived as she too was dropped as the other two did battle, seemingly leisurely as Beatrice would later admit that the squad decided to take the race slow.

“We have been training hard preparing for the Games and our bodies are a bit tired so we settled on a comfortable pace as qualification was the most important thing for us and we were ceratin of being on the podium,” Beatrice offered after the race.

Chepkoech placed seventh in her signature event with a time of 9:16.33 at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic and she is keen to make amends in Paris and deliver Kenya’s first gold for women in the distance at the Games.

The last two titles have been won by Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet of Bahrain and Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai but Beatrice believes Kenya has a squad that could finally break the jinx.

“This is our time now. We have a strategy that we will perfect on as soon as we head to camp as at the moment everyone is preparing individually,” Chepkoech added.