Birtwhistle too fast for talented Kenyans

LAUNCESTON runner Jake Birtwhistle put in an outstanding run and confirmed his  Olympic potential with a great win in the inaugural Tasmania versus Kenya Invitational Mile at the Silverdome last night against four quality Kenyan distance runners.

 In a popular addition to the carnival program,  some of Tasmania's best middle-distance runners - Birtwhistle, Launceston's Josh Harris and James Hansen and Hobart's Grant Page and Hugh Nicklason - took on Kenyans Festus Talam, David Wanjohl, Elijan Kiptoo and John Rotich in a six-lap race around the track verge.

Birtwhistle timed his run to perfection, making his move on the final lap after the four Kenyans had gone out hard running in tandem in a lead group.

Birtwhistle outsprinted Kiptoo and Talam on the final lap with his home crowd roaring him on.

The 18-year-old Birtwhistle has had an outstanding year, representing Australia at the world junior cross-country championships and world junior triathlon championships.

``I am very happy with the win over a really quality field in a Launceston race as well,'' he said.

``Over that last lap the crowd was screaming so loudly and it was great they got behind us and cheered us, and it helped a lot.''

Birtwhistle said he went into the event  without a specific  plan but tried to get on the back of the Kenyan runners during the race.

``I wasn't expecting to get over them at all but I am very happy I was able to get past them on the last lap and get the win.''

It was the the first time in the 126-year history of the Launceston carnival that Kenyan runners had taken part.

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