Kenya names strong team for Rio Olympics
On a day of most dramatic results and upsets galore, a strong ‘Team Kenya’ to next month’s Olympic Games was selected as the two-day trials closed in Eldoret on Friday, with Deputy President William Ruto in attendance.
No doubt the biggest casualties were defending Olympic champion and world 800 metres record holder David Rudisha, former world champion over the distance Eunice Sum, last year’s Diamond League steeplechase champion Jairus Birech and world 10,000 metres silver medalist Geoffrey Kamworor.
While Kamworor withdrew with stitches mid-way the 10,000 metres race and Birech also pulled out of the steeplechase final, Rudisha and Sum were both floored by former junior champions at the trials mainly sponsored by Safaricom, Tusker and Lotto.
Nation Media Group were the official media partners of the championship.
But Kamworor, Sum and Rudisha were all named in the Kenyan team to Rio.
Kenya will also send a fairly large team of sprinters with Alphas Keshoyan, Raymond Kibet, Alex Sampao and Boniface Mweresa picked for the 400 metres and the duo of Carvin Nkanata and Mike Mokamba making the 200 metres team.
World 400 metres hurdles champion Nicholas Bett did not show up yesterday but will travel to Rio along with his brother Aron Koech and Africa champion Boniface Mucheru.
Kenya will also be represented in the walks by Samuel Kathemba, Simon Wachira and Grace Wanjiru.
Off the track, world javelin champion Julius Yego threw 81:04 metres yesterday to cement his ticket to Rio and will be joined in the field by newly-crowned Africa high jump champion Mathew Sawe.
Margaret Nyairera Wambui, the world indoor 800 metres bronze medalist who won the 2014 world junior championships title in Eugene, Oregon, stunned the crowd when she blazed to a stadium record 1:58:27, with some daylight between her and second placed Sum (1:59:63).
“The first thing is that I’m going to Rio. I just need to polish up my training and I hope I will do my best in August,” said Sum, world champion in 2013.
And in the men’s race, another gold medalist from the 2014 World Junior Championships at Hayward Field Stadium in Oregon, Alfred Kipketer (1:43:73), also came of age, showing a clean pair of heels to pre-race favourite Ferguson Rotich (1:44:05) and Rudisha (1:44:23).
After Birech dropped out of the steeplechase, World and Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi taunted his rivals and waved to the crowd during the race as if to prove he is in superb form.
He eventually strolled home after being assured of an Olympic ticket, signalling to 2008 Olympic Champion Brimin Kipruto to cross the line first with Conseslus Kipruto in tow.
“I’m glad that there are two seasoned Olympians in this steeplechase team, with a young boy who just needs some little mentorship to become champion. This team is very strong and I hope we will sweep the podium in Rio God willing,” said Kemboi.
Asbel Kiprop and Faith Chepng’etich will lead the 1,500m teams with world champion Kiprop winning the men’s race in 3:38:21 and World Championships silver medalist Elijah Manangoi finishing second in 3:38:48.