NAIROBI, Kenya, April 21- Top performers at recent London, Boston, Rotterdam and Paris lead the race for selection into Kenya’s marathon team for the World Championships which will be unveiled after Easter festivities.
Speaking to Capital Sport Thursday, Athletics Kenya (AK) general secretary, David Okeyo, disclosed the federation’s panel of selectors would meet immediately after the Easter break to choose ten runners, five male and five female to bear the nation’s flag at the Classic Distance in Daegu, South Korea.
Abel Kirui, who won the men’s title in Berlin two years ago, will not be given an automatic ticket to defend his crown following indifferent performances since he led London champion, Emmanuel Mutai for the Kenyan 1-2 in Germany.
“Selectors have to gauge his form and come up with the decision whether to include him since IAAF rules state even if defending champions are given automatic passage, they must be selected by their federations,” Okeyo said.
He outlined criteria for selection would involve recent performances, consistency and above all, willingness of those sounded out to take up the challenge of competing for their nation.
Among those in the frame for call-ups in the men’s squad include Boston champion, Geoffrey Mutai who is the fastest runner over the distance with his barnstorming 2:03:02, Moses Mosop who trailed him to the tape on Monday in 2:03:06 on his marathon debut and London winner, Mutai who brings his 2:04:40 course record and career best to the table.
London runner-up, Martin Lel, who ran 2:05:45 on his return to marathon running since finishing fifth in Berlin and Patrick Makau, who completed the clean Kenyan sweep in England with the same timing are also in with a shout.
Rotterdam winner, Wilson Chebet (2:05:27), Paris champion, Benjamin Kiptoo (2:06:31) and Yusuf Songoka who triumphed at the Daegu Marathon in the same course that will be used for the World Championships comprise others with a chance.
Unlike the past few championships, the renaissance of women marathoners has given the selectors a choice of options as Kenya seeks to produce another female marathon champion since Catherine Ndereba won her second title in Osaka 2007.
In form Mary Keitany, who broke the women’s half marathon world record in February before racing the fastest marathon in five years in her London victory of 2:19:19 and Caroline Kilel, who won the Frankfurt race last year before adding the marquee Boston to her collection with a 2:22:28 career best on Monday front the queue.
Priscah Jeptoo, Paris winner in a brisk 2:22:55, Rotterdam champion, Philes Ongori (2:24:20), New York winner and London third finisher, Edna Kiplagat (2:20:46, PB) are other favourites that include Ndereba who has expressed her desire to go for a third title.
Boston second runner-up, Sharon Cherop (2:22:42, PB) and Caroline Rotich who placed immediately below her with 2:24:26, are also up for consideration.