NAIROBI, Kenya, March 15- Only the men 10000m Kenyan Olympics Trial will be held at the June 2 Pre Fontaine Classic in Oregon, Athletics Kenya stated on Thursday.
That decision seeks to draw a line on the controversy that has dogged the federation since February when it first announced plans to hold Trials at the American Samsung Diamond League event.
“After discussions with the Diamond League organisers, we have agreed only the men 10000m Trials in Pre Fontaine. The 10000m event will be only open to Kenyans.
“I want to clarify the misconception that people think that the Trials for the Kenyan team will be held elsewhere. The Trials for the Kenyan team will be held in Kenya,” AK chief Isaiah Kiplagat declared.
Originally, AK had planned to hold the selection events for both men and women 5000m and 10000m in Oregon but the idea has now been shelved.
“Even if we do not hold the Trials for the others races in Oregon where the women 10000m event will not feature, we will still see many of our runners compete there in the Diamond League.
Kiplagat slammed Kenya’s Commissioner for Sport, Gordon Oluoch who said over the weekend the Government would not allow the federation to carry Olympics Trials outside the nation.
“It’s only unfortunate that the same people in the Government like the Commissioner who has done nothing to develop federations in this country other than destroy just goes there and said the Government will block.
“I asked this question and needed the minister himself to come out because the Commissioner is not the Government and this morning the matter was clarified and no one is against the idea and I’m happy,” the AK boss charged.
Kiplagat spent Thursday morning in a National Olympics Steering Committee meeting chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Sports Ministry, James Waweru where he laid out the Oregon plans that were approved.
“Let us be honest, only athletics and swimming will win this country medals at the Olympics. We are targeting to win 11 gold medals and therefore, we are in the process of preparing our teams seriously.
“So, when we come up with new ways to ensure that we win the men 10000m race for the first time in 44 years, people should not criticise but give us support,” he stormed.
The chair said selection for Olympics had been made difficult by the large numbers of athletes who have attained the qualification standards for the summer showpiece.
“In marathon we have 278 men who have qualified and 61 women and we only need six. In all other events, we have 201 who have qualified and we need to take only 45. You can see the task ahead of us how to select.
“For marathon, we are almost there, on April 30 we shall announce the six and for the others, we shall wait for the Trials and name them,” the chairman told.
The Oregon Trial will feature no designated pace makers and AK will select the first two finishers automatically before the panel of selectors vote on who to award the third wildcard ticket.
Stern criticism from some retired athletes notably former world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat and former world 10000m titleholder, Moses Tanui in addition to Oluoch greeted AK’s Pre Fontaine Trials plan.