Track stars to compete in Paris

July 16, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 16 – Seven Olympic team athletes left the country on Tuesday night for Paris, where they will compete in the Golden League meet on Friday night.

Africa Steeplechase champion Richard Mateelong, Edwin Soi, Commonwealth Games 5,000 meters champion Augustine Choge, Nicholas Kemboi, Moses Masai, Micah Kogo, Sylvia Kibet and Viola Kibiwott will all take part in the lucrative athletics meet in the French capital Paris.

Soi and Mateelong will compete in the men’s 3,000 metres, while Masai and Kogo will line up in the 5,000m race. Choge and Kemboi will compete in 1500 metres along with Kibiwott.

Head coach Julius Kirwa said that all these races will form part of the team’s training programme ahead of the Olympic Games.

“They will be working on their speed as well as how much progress they have made and work on staying sharp,” said the coach.

Coach Kirwa added that former World Indoor champion Wilfred Bungei, Africa 5,000metres bronze medallist Grace Momanyi and World silver medallist Vivian Cheruiyot will depart on Friday for London where they will compete.

At the same time officials have allowed World 10,000 metres bronze medallist Martin Mathathi to train for the games in Japan.

The Japan based athlete who runs for the Suzuki team had requested to go prepare in the Far East country as was the case before last year’s World Athletics Championships.

Meanwhile, several athletes who competed in athletics meets last week are back in camp. Boaz Lalang who was fourth in the Athens Grand Prix and Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who won his speciality in Athens and was second at the Golden Gala in Rome, both arrived on Monday.

World 3,000metres steeplechase champion Brimin Kipruto arrived on Monday but has been given compassionate leave following the death of his grandmother.

Meanwhile, the government has urged the Olympics team to show total commitment when they compete in next month’s Olympic Games.

Speaking while officially opening the team’s training camp at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on Wednesday, Minister for Sports Helen Sambili implored the athletes to represent the country with patriotism.

“When you compete in Beijing please show the commitment similar to what Kipchoge Keino showed when he won gold in 1968, despite being told not to run by doctors. Set your targets and make sure you achieve them,” she said.

The minister challenged the athletes to break new grounds by winning an unprecedented number of gold medals.

“I hope that you can bring back seven gold medals and set anew record for the number of medals won at the games because this is a new era in Kenya and you have the ability to start a new era in the Olympic Games,” she observed.

The team will depart for Beijing in two batches on the 1st and 3rd of August, for the games which are scheduled to start on the 8th.


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