NAIROBI, October 15 – Athletics Kenya (AK) has directed marathoners keen on 2016 Olympic Games selection to run their last race in February to be considered for the August 5-21 global showpiece in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
The announcement was made on Thursday by AK vice-president in charge of Administration and Competition, David Okeyo who said it will help the federation prepare the team adequately.
This, he added, was an effort to seek an end to poor performances over the ultimate distance at recent international events.
AK’s latest decree potentially rules out star circuit marathoners who have already been booked for prestigious city races in the spring season in Europe and America.
The first three World Marathon Majors (WMM) races of 2016 in Tokyo, London and Boston are in the early part of the year.
The Stanchart Dubai (January 22) that is outside the WMM is the only big race that fits the criteria with the Marathon Trials set for February 14.
Tokyo (February 28) the classic Boston and London marathons falling on April 18 and 24 in that order fall out of the tentative date for the Trial whose venue is yet to be determined.
“Why is it that we have good marathon runners who perform well in city events yet when we go to Championships and Olympics we don’t do well?
“We are coming up with a plan and policy which is being developed and as soon as we agree, we will let you know the best way we will select the marathoners.
“The marathoners who would like to participate in Olympics must run their last race in February and the rules that will follow will be developed by the Board and technical officials,” Okeyo declared when launching the 2015/16 calendar of events.
In recent years, AK has used the spring Marathon Majors and other IAAF Gold Label events of Paris (set for April 3) and Rome (April 10) to select the marathon squad.
However, most top circuit marathoners of the time approached declined invitations to run at the Osaka 2007 and the subsequent Berlin 2009 Worlds where Luke Kibet and Abel Kirui won the men’s as Catherine Ndereba and Edna Kiplagat bagged the women gold medals.
Dickson Chumba lead his compatriots to a podium sweep as World Half Marathon champion, Florence Kiplagat won the corresponding women race at the last WMM in Chicago last weekend.
After poor showing at the August Beijing Worlds where record holder, Dennis Kimetto and his predecessor Wilson Kipsang dropped out of the men’s event as unheralded Helah Kirop battled for silver in the women’s; the federation took the blame and promised to change the selection criteria.
The late Samuel Wanjiru remains the only Kenya with an Olympics marathon title when he set the men’s record of 2:06:32 at the Beijing Games in 2008.
London champion, Eliud Kipchoge and Kiplagat who is a two-time Berlin winner are some of the star marathoners who were keen on the Olympics.
New York champions, Kipsang who won bronze at the 2012 Games in London behind Kirui and Mary Keitany, fourth in the women’s race at the last Olympics are also interested in the quadrennial global sporting carnival.
Additionally, AK will conduct Olympics Trials for Race walking team on February 21 with Okeyo noting Kenya has potential to win a medal in the event that has been dominated by African champion and record holder, Grace Wanjiru (women) and veteran David Kimutai (men).
“We have also found out that we can win medals in the Walk so we will have Trials which will be held either here if we manage to bring three countries as required by IAAF or take them to one of the challenge meetings to compete and qualify for Olympics,” The Confederation of Africa Athletics vice-president, stated.
The track and field Trials for the Olympics will be held from July 29 to August 2 at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium.
At the same, the 2015/16 Cross Country season will include relays that will run concurrently in four of the seven domestic circuit meetings.
The relays will include two senior men and women teams who will tackle a 2km loop course.
Other changes made by IAAF will see both the senior men and women compete over 10km while junior girls and boys will run 6km and 8km in that order.
Okeyo urged regional branches that will host the four premier events to start early preparations to enable them select a strong team for 2016 Africa Cross Country Championships set for March 12 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
KEY TRIAL DATES
Marathon Trials for Team Kenya to Olympics – February 14
Race Walk Trials for Team Kenya Olympics – February 21
National Championships/ Africa Championships Trials – May 26-27 Kasarani Stadium
Trials World Junior – June 21-22.
Track and field trials Olympics – July 29- August 2 – Kasarani