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Saruni, relay axed from Team Kenya for worlds

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Michael Saruni (right) and World Javelin champion Julius Yego (left) warming up. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28- Michael Saruni has been dropped from the Kenya 800m team heading to London next week for the IAAF World Championships according to what Athletics Kenya (AK) termed as advise from their technical committee.

AK President (Rtd) Gen Jackson Tuwei in a briefing on Friday evening said the technical committee advised that Saruni who finished third in the trials in July was not in good shape.

“We can’t go against the wishes of the technical committee because that is the reason they are there. They are trained and qualified and really, when they tell us something we have to listen. We would be devaluing their job if we don’t listen to their advice,” Tuwei said.

However, Capital Sports has learnt that the athlete was dropped on ‘disciplinary grounds’, having left camp without permission during the raging debate on who should be dropped from the bloated team.

Michael Saruni. Photo/COURTESY

After a closed door meeting between the athletes and AK officials in Kasarani on Friday, Saruni was seen remonstrating angrily after exiting the room and it took the intervention of reigning World Champion David Rudisha and World javelin champion Julius Yego to cool him down.

Capital Sport managed to get audience with the United States based athlete and he was equally disappointed that he had been axed.

“The reason they gave was that I missed camp for three days over a weekend. That was the time when the newspapers were awash with stories that I had been axed in the team. I don’t think it is fair to me and I am very disappointed with the decision,” Saruni said as he struggled to calm down, still seething with anger from the decision.

The controversy has been raging over the past two weeks on the composition of the team. AK named five athletes in the team whereas the requirement was that only four can be named.

The top three finishers from the trials alongside Rudisha and 2016 Diamond League winner Ferguson Rotich who had wildcards were named in the team. It was expected that one of the wildcards would be dropped.

-Koech out-

Harun Koech spreads his arms in celebration after winning the 400m Hurdles race during the Kenyan trials at the Nyayo Stadium on June 24, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

At the same time, Aaron Koech’s participation in the championship hangs in the balance after his entry was rejected by the IAAF system according to AK. With defending champion Nicholas Bett out of the championship due to injury, Kenya will have no representative to defend the title.

Koech raced in Italy last weekend, clocking 49.39, five fractions of a second off the required mark of 49.35. However, AK hoped he would be entered based on ranking as he is 35th worldwide and a pool of 40 hurdlers will be in Rio.

“We have followed up the issue three times with IAAF and up to this morning we talked to them but they still refused. We will continue pursuing to the end,” Tuwei decalred.

Team Kenya head coach Julius Kirwa added that they will follow up the issue to see to it that Koech gets a ticket to London.

“The first criteria is on time but the second is on ranking. He is number 35 and there will be 40 hurdlers. This means that he qualifies to go,” Kirwa said.

The Kenyan Relay women’s team at Kasarani. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Meanwhile, Kenya will not be sending a team for both men and women relays. Also affected is triple jumper Elijah Kimitei whose qualification was also rejected by the IAAF system.

Kenya will take a pool of 49 athletes and 26 officials to the games and they will be travelling in two batches, the first on August 1 and the second on August 5.

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