NAIROBI, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan junior team remained hopeful of clinching the overall title as the last team members left the country on Sunday night without 3,000m runner Mercy Chepkorir.
This means Kenya will now have 26 athletes in Tampere, Finland as they seek to outshine the USA in the World Under-20 Championships which starts on Tuesday.
Athletics Kenya chairman in charge of youth and development Barnaba Korir, said on Monday he is disappointed and empathized with Chepkorir.
"We are saddened by the fate Chepkorir had to endure. It is not our making that her passport was not stamped for a visa due to an anomaly over her gender. The passport indicates she is male, yet she is female and the Finland embassy in Nairobi could not approve it," he said in Nairobi.
Nonetheless, the final team got on to the plane with every expectation of surpassing their last medal haul in Bydgoszcz, Poland two years ago.
Kenya claimed nine medals in the Polish city, five gold, two silver and two bronze to finish second to the United States, who collected 21 (11 gold, seven silver and three bronze). Head coach Robert Ngisirei attributed the poor showing by Kenya to competition from Ethiopia, Uganda, Qatar and Bahrain.
However, he believes the new team he will present in Tampere will weather the storm from traditional rivals and even widen their medal scope to field events and sprints, events normally dominated by USA, China and Jamaica.
In the absence of Chepkorir, Kenya will now be represented in the 3,000m by Zena Jemutai, who won during the national trials in Nairobi in June.
Ngisirei pointed out the agility of triple jumpers Gloria Mulei and Philip Musyoka who are the first Kenyan triple jumpers in history who will be competing at the event.
"They have what it takes. They attained the international qualification marks and they are in Finland on merit. Mulei jumped 12.97 meters in Nairobi beating the qualifying mark of 12.85 meters," the coach said.
Mulei believes the best is yet to come. "I want to improve that record further at the world junior event and perhaps reach the final," Mulei said.
Mulei also hopes the expedition in Finland will also help to secure qualification for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2019.
"The focus is on winning a medal at the world junior event... Getting into the Kenyan team for the World Championships for senior athletes will be a bonus," Mulei said. Enditem