Africa 5,000m champ Zakayo shakes off injury, eyes gold at Doha worlds

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NAIROBI, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Africa 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo said here Monday that he has recovered from injury and will be a thorn in the feet of his rivals in the build-up to the World Championships.

The 18-year-old is battling to find his footing in a choking 5,000m field and also stem the allure of lucrative road races to focus on building his points for the Diamond League trophy.

Zakayo said he has had mixed results this season because of injury and illness, but he believes, all that is behind him as he proved his case at the Rabat, Morocco over the weekend winning the 5,000m race in the sixth stop of the Diamond League, and only round of the 14-leg in Africa.

"It feels good to regain my confidence and fight for a chance in the Kenya team and against my opponents. I was devastated for missing out on the World Cross Country. I went back to train, but got injured," he said.

"I was sick just before Rome Diamond League meeting and was worried heading to Rabat, but I am glad the body responded well, though the race was a little bit slow to my liking," said Zakayo, the Commonwealth 5,000m bronze medalist.

Zakayo, who is also the World Junior 5,000m champion, said he intends to change his running style to front-running having stayed behind the leading pack in Rabat before surging ahead with 1000m to go to win in 13:11.49 and atone for the early defeat in Rome on June 6.

The youngster, who finished seventh in Rome but in a personal best 13:03.19, edged out Ethiopian Solomon Berihu who finished second in 13:16.08 as home athlete Soufiyan Bouqantar came in third in 13:17.26.

Kenya has struggled to edge out Ethiopia in the long distance and currently, there is a lot of competition from Bahrain, Uganda and the United States. But Zakayo believes with better training, he will be able to restore the country's pride as the giant in the distance races.

"I was talking to the closest pacemaker to run faster, but to no avail. Hence, I decided to change the tactics at the last two rounds and continue alone," said Zakayo.

The youngster said his focus is on the World Championships and he will make some few appearances in the remaining seven rounds of the Diamond League.

The World Championships will be held in Doha, Qatar from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6. Enditem

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