Fine starts for Kibet, Leni at first UAF Trials

Confident race. Kibet took early lead and did not look back to the finish line at Namboole on Saturday. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA


What you need to know:

  • On a rather very hot day, Kibet in particular controlled the temperatures and had the field under his spikes before winning the 5000m race with ease.

Teenager Dan Kibet, sprinter Shida Leni and middle-distance runner Tom Dradriga impressed despite a handful of competitors turning up for the first Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) Trials at Namboole stadium on Saturday.

On a rather very hot day, Kibet in particular controlled the temperatures and had the field under his spikes before winning the 5000m race with ease.

He took the lead early and broke away from the rest of the pack after six laps to win the 12-and-a-half-lap race in a time of 13 minutes and 46.06 seconds.

“It was too hot,” Kibet said after the race. “I am happy with my time,” noted the runner from the Joshua Cheptegei Development Foundation (Jocdef) club in Kapchorwa.

Now three weeks after finishing fourth at the National Cross-country Championships in Tororo, Kibet beat the qualifying standard of 14:15.00 to earn a ticket to the World U-20 Championships set to be held from August 2-7 in Cali, Colombia.

“My target this year is to win a medal at the World U20 Championships,” he added. The 18-year-old only started running in 2020 but a spate of injuries hampered his progress.

Last year, the youngster inspired by Olympic 5000m champion Cheptegei came eighth in the 3000m final at the World U20 Championships in Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Leni beats Nakaayi

Before Kibet, national record holder Shida Leni of Police started her season by winning the 400m race in a time of 53.22.

“Being the first race of the season, the time is okay,” said Leni. “But if you look at how I ran the last 50 metres, I had some pain in the right leg but I will improve.”

Leni beat world 800m champion Halimah Nakaayi from Uganda Wildlife Authority who came second in 53.50.

Nakaayi is preparing for the World Indoor Championships set to be in Belgrade, Serbia from March 18-20. “I am basically looking for speed. My body is okay,” Nakaayi said, briefly.

Dradriga to Mauritius

Elsewhere, Nakaayi’s training partner Dradriga produced an admirable final 250m to win the third 800m race on the day in a time of 1:46.58.

“I am happy to run well for the first time since 2019,” stated the 24-year-old. He beat the qualification standard of 1:47.30 to the Africa Senior Championships set to be held June 2-6 in Mauritius.

“The finish was good, I knew I was late and I was trying to catch up on time. I want to clock Oregon World Championships time. I can do it here if the body responds well and the conditions are good.”

Dradriga beat his UWA teammate and partner Ronald Musagala, who was racing for the first time in six months following a terrible hamstring problem.

Musagala posted 1:49.15 in second place. “If my time is below 1:50, then I am happy because it has been a while since I competed,” said the 29-year-old.

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