Nairobi, Sept 1: Olympic 5,000m silver medalist Hellen Obiri and Beatrice Chepkoech are among a horde of elite runners who have been awarded wild cards to the World Championships due September 28 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar.
Chepkoech, who led the country's sweep of the top four places in the women's steeplechase event in Zurich on Thursday, was among 16 athletes to be given wild cards to the Doha event after winning their respective events in the final. Chepkoech holds the world record in steeplechase at 8:44.32.
"It eases the pressure off me going to the national trials because I can relax knowing that I have my ticket to the World Championships," said Chepkoech on Saturday.
Obiri on the other hand have secured a wild card in 5,000m race as the defending champion from London in 2017.
However, for Chepkoech, 24, the wild card came along with 5 million shillings (50,000 U.S. dollars) bonus and a diamond trophy for her consistency in the Diamond League and will seek to crown off a successful year with gold in Doha.
"Twice I have come close to winning. In London in 2017 world championship and the Rio Olympics in 2016. But I ended up in fourth place. Now I have to crown this good run in 2019 with a gold medal in Doha," said Chpekoech.
While all of the winners in Zurich had already qualified for the World Championships in at least one event, a wild card would, for some, pave the way to competing in another discipline in Doha or open up a fourth spot on their national team for a teammate.
That means that Kenya will now have the privilege of fielding four athletes in women's 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m races team in Doha. (UNI-Xinhua)