NAIROBI, Kenya, April 25- London winners, Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany will lead Kenya’s charge at the distance at the Olympics following the much anticipated unveiling of the squad by Athletics Kenya (AK) on Wednesday.
Keitany will front the women’s squad alongside the podium finishers at Sunday’s race, World champion, Edna Kiplagat and third placed Priscah Jeptoo who won the second medal in Daegu last year.
Speaking at Riadha House during the naming of the team, AK Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said they were confident that the team selected will bring Olympics glory to the country.
“We have selected the athletes based on their individual performances after the major marathon races they have participated in this season with a lot of emphasis on experience.
“It wasn’t an easy task picking the team since the expectation of Kenyans was for instance marathon record holder Patrick Makau, New York champion Geoffrey Mutai to feature but with time the two couldn’t make it,” the federation boss stated.
On the surprise inclusion of Mosop who will feature in his second Olympics since finishing seventh over 10000m at the Athens Games, the chair defended the choice noting, “If you look at the time posted by Mosop, although he was third in Rotterdam he has done much better than most athletes.”
The final six were selected from a list of 12 probables named in January.
“We can still pick one more athlete before the June 23 deadline as part of the reserve just in case any of the six dropped out due to injury as we await a full report on the injuries that forced Mutai and Makau out of their races,” Kiplagat explained.
London course record holder, Emmanuel Mutai was the other men’s probable who missed the Olympics party after finishing seventh in his title defense on Sunday.
Chicago winner Florence Kiplagat, Worlds bronze winner Sharon Cherop who won the Boston race and Lydia Cheromei the runner-up at last year’s Dubai Marathon missed selection in the corresponding women’s event.
The team will be headed for residential camp in two weeks in Eldoret or Iten and will not be allowed to participate in any races before the Olympics.
“The course will be a tough one with the twists and turns but depending on the weather and how the athletes will react to the conditions, it may change the chances of edging even closer to a world record,” said Kipsang upon his arrival from London on Tuesday.
Kenya won her first Olympics marathon title through the late Samuel Wanjiru and two-time silver medallist, Catherine Ndereba remains the closest the nation has come to glory in the women’s race.