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Beijing departure date changed

NAIROBI, July 24 – The departure date for the national athletics team to Beijing for this year’s Olympic Games has been moved back by a week.

Chief de mission David Okeyo said on Thursday that the team’s officials were working on securing tickets to travel on August 11 as opposed to August 3 as had been earlier arranged.

Coaches and athletes had requested for departure date to be pushed back because of the adverse weather conditions in Beijing.

“We received a request from the coaches and we are trying to work with Emirates to see whether we can get bookings for August 11. Demand for flights to Beijing is so high at the moment that we could not get bookings for August 10 but we are hopeful that we will succeed,” said Okeyo.

Okeyo however said that the rest of the Olympic squad will leave next week as had been earlier planned.

“The boxers, swimming officials, rowers and taekwondo will all leave next week in time for the opening ceremony,” he said.

Marathoners will be the last ones to arrive in Beijing on August 16, “we booked their flights way in advance so they have no problem,” he said.

On the issue of reserve athletes, Okeyo reiterated that they will only be included if the selected athletes are injured or fall ill.

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“The athletes we selected at the trials on July 5 are the ones who will represent the country. But we shall carry the reserves so that in case one of the athletes is unable to compete in Beijing, then we shall have an alternative,” he observed.

World Cross country silver medallist Leonard Komon, Africa 800 metres champion David Rudisha, Paul Kipsiele Koech, Josephat Ndambiri, Africa 5,000 metres silver medallist Isaac Songok, 2005 Boston marathon Rita Jeptoo and World champion Luke Kibet were all selected as reserve athletes by Athletics Kenya.

Meanwhile sprinter Vincent Mumo is back in the country after a ten day training stint in Finland.

The diminutive sprinter was under the tutelage of South African Coach J Peet.

“I was mainly working on my speed together with several other South Africans and it went very well and all I have to do is keep training until Beijing,” said Mumo.

Kenya will be represented by 47 athletes in Beijing in four disciplines with track and field making up the bulk of it with 37 athletes.

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