NAIROBI, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Hosts Kenya started off their medal hunt on a good note as Dominic Kipkemboi and George Manangoi dominated the boys' 1,500m to qualify for the final of the World Under-18 Championships on Wednesday in Nairobi.
Manangoi and Kipkemboi led from the front to stamp their authority and send a clear message to the host's rivals that Kenya was out to rule the roost at the final World Youth Championships.
Kipkemboi opted to take his traditional gun-to-tape performance, winning the first semi-final in 3:48.77 after cruising through 800m in 1:55.79 and 1200m in 2:58.17.
Kipkemboi beat Algeria's Oussama Cherrad who came in second in 3:48.93 ahead of Abebe Dessassa from Ethiopia in third taking 3:49.58 to all qualify.
George, the younger brother of world 1,500m silver medalist Elijah Manangoi, stayed in the middle of the pack before going second behind Ethiopian Belete Mekonen at the bell.
Mekonen, who clocked 3:16.41 past 1200, fell behind Manangoi, who kicked with 300m to go to win in 3:55.00.
"I had a lot of respect for my opponents though I did not want to strain myself very much because I'm eyeing the top podium finish on Friday. I lost to Kipkemboi during last month's trials but now I believe in myself. I have been training well, I'm in good shape and I hope to lower my personal best on Friday," said Managoi.
In another race, Kenyans Mary Moraa and Sharon Jebet sparked to form and claimed their spots in the girls' 400m semifinals.
Moraa, staged a tactical race to triumph in a personal best of 54.07 having held on to the lead by the 300m mark to go.
A late surge from Brazilian Rosalia Dos Santos Giovana at the last bend could only trigger her sprint as she pulled out stronger in the final straight to win in a personal best of 54.29 ahead of Giovana while Serbia's Sekulic Kataria came in third also in her best time of 54.86 to qualify for the semifinals from the second heat.
Meanwhile, Uganda athletes are keen to return home with some silverware. The team of six arrived in Nairobi on Monday and went straight to training.
The Uganda team has Daniel Kiprop and Hosea Kiplangat in 1500m, Joshua Kibet and Bekele Apenyo in 800m, Sarah Chelengat and Esther Chekwemoi 3000m and Daniel Kiprop in 1500m.
The team was received by IAAF head Sebastian Coe who said, "This event is so helpful as it prepares young athletes for bigger games in future."
Coe thanked Uganda and Kenya for hosting the two big events of the IAAF this year and that is the World Cross Country in Uganda on March 23 and the IAAF U18 Championships starting today in Kenya.