NAIROBI, Kenya, March 5- Athletics Kenya (AK) came out staunchly on Monday to defend their controversial plan to stage the London 2012 Olympics distance track Trials at the Pre-Fontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on June 2.
Concurrently, the federation named 64 athletes who have been invited to train for the 5,000m and 10,000m races under nine coaches among them, triple world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot.
“Let remove all this mischievous and malicious talk! How can you say we are selling our athletes to go and compete in America? He will not compete for America when he qualifies.
“Some people are calling themselves former running and are saying this is bad yet they have done nothing to help athletes. We are only trying a new formula to succeed,” an upset AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat stormed at a Monday press conference.
His remarks were directed against a number of high profile retired athletes including former world record holder, Paul Tergat, who have expressed their opposition for the proposal to hold a Kenyan Trial on foreign soil.
AK’s top brass disclosed the 10,000m Trials had been fully been sponsored by sports apparel manufacturer, Nike, their main financial backers although Kiplagat and General Secretary, David Okeyo, were not reading from the same script on the deal.
On one hand, Okeyo said the 30 slots for Kenyan runners invited for the planned Pre Fontaine Trial would race against international stars including the men 5,000m world champion and silver medallist in the 10,000m, Britain’s Mo Farah as part of the Samsung Diamond League roster.
However, the chair, Kiplagat, who arrived at the press briefing later said organisers of the Pre Fontaine meet, had set aside a Kenyan-only Trial to run alongside the Diamond League competition.
Consequently, AK will hold a mini trial on April 17 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi where the athletes who will be selected to compete at the Pre-Fontaine Classic will be identified.
The probables in the two distances will train at the IOC High Performance Training Centre in Eldoret and are expected to report to the camp from March 10.
“I remember when I used to be young, Kenyans used to be taken abroad to qualify. We would like to qualify our athletes in Eugene, it is fully sponsored. We thought it was a good idea; nobody forced AK to have it.
“When we were going to the World Championships in Daegu, the UK offered us a chance to go for Trials there but we could not travel there since we could not afford the tickets,” Okeyo had earlier offered.
According to the AK top brass, the Pre Fontaine Trial would give circuit specialists who excel at low attitude an even chance of making the Kenyan team.
“They are so much disadvantaged when they compete on high altitude for the Trials and so many have been left on the way side. Those we have selected have never done better due to lack of experience.
“This is why we have decided to try the people who have already competed in the Diamond League and low attitude,” Kiplagat claimed while vehemently denying commercial reasons had informed their decision.
“The 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals have been very elusive at the Olympics and let this fail so that we can be blamed,” he added.
The pre-training camp in Eldoret will commence on March 12 with the reporting date for two days prior.
AK has already communicated to corporate teams in Japan to release runners in their stables through the Japan Athletics Federation with coaches set to whittle down the probables after the mini-trial.
Joseph Kinyua, the AK treasurer, was named the team manager of the probables squad with coaches to decide whether athletes such as Worlds 10,000m silver winner, Sally Kipyego who train in Oregon can continue their build-up there.
The federation plans to unveil similar training plans for mid distance and steeplechase runners with those competing in sprints, field events and relays said to be currently building-up for the Olympics.
5,000m Women– Vivian Cheruiyot, Viola Kibiwott, Mercy Cherono, Sylvia Kibet, Pauline Korikwiang, Esther Chemtai, Grace Momanyi, Lineth Chepkirui, Ann Karindi, Margaret Wangari, Veronica Nyaruai, Gladys Chemweno.
10,000m Women– Sally Kipyego, Linet Masai, Priscah Jepleting, Joyce Chepkurui, Emily Chebet, Sally Chepyego, Pauline Njeri, Lucy Kabuu
5,000m Men– Isaiah Kiplangat, Vincent Chepkok, Thomas Longosiwa, Eliud Kipchoge, Edwin Soi, Mark Kiptoo, Albert Rop, Paul Lonyangata, Yusuf Biwott, Mike Kipruto, Vincent Yator, Alex Oloitiptip, David Bett, Charles Ndirangu, Japheth Korir, Daniel Lemashon, John Chepkwony
10,000m Men– Luca Rotich, Josephat Bett, Paul Tanui, Emmanuel Bett, Leonard Komon, Geoffrey Kirui, Titus Mbishei, Geoffrey Kipsang, Moses Masai, Bedan Karoki, Edward Waweru, Martin Mathathi, John Kemboi, James Gitahi, John Kimondo, Stephen Sambu, Leonard Korir, Kevin Chelimo, Aaron Rono, Wilson Kiprop, Dennis Masai, Patrick Muaka, Paul Mutero, Lewis Korir, Dennis Kipruto.
Coaches- Dr. Nganga Ngata, Julius Kirwa, David Letting, Sammy Rono, Peter Mathu, Peninah Talam, Bruce Latti, Joseph Ngure, John Mwithiga