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Top guns welcome Bristol reprieve

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 2- Metric mile distance runners in the Kenyan London bound Olympics team have welcomed the decision to defer their departure for to Britain for a training camp in Bristol.

On Monday the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock) spared the male and female 1500m runners from the planned Tuesday departure to London before connecting to Bristol averting a potential crisis that had the affected athletes up in arms.

“We now feel great, as a team, especially the 1500m runners since we were getting focused on preparing to run at the Olympics.

“The plan is now going on well and I appreciate Nock and Athletics Kenya for reaching an understanding and giving us time to train in Kenya,” Olympics champion, Asbel Kiprop, who is out to defend his title in London said.

“Here in Kenya, we have the altitude and food we are used to. Training here as a team gives us morale to perform better. We began training in early January and sharpened in April and now that we are heading to the Olympics, we are involved in final preparations.

“We are going to train hard here in Kasarani until our departure and we shall try to win Kenya the medals,” the world and African champion who was among those vehemently opposed to the Bristol camp added.

World 3000m indoor gold medallist, Helen Obiri, stated the decision to exempt them from early departure saying it would give them ample time to train for the medal push.

“What I promise Kenyans is that we shall work hard to get to the finals and from there, we shall try our best. I’m in better shape than last year and I’m sure I will do something there.

“There are strong athletes from Ethiopia and Russia but I want to go out there and get something. I cannot promise Kenyans any medal and let’s wait and see,” Obiri who will compete in the Paris Diamond League meeting on Thursday explained.

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“In Kenya, we have high altitude and in Bristol, the altitude is low and its summer. But now, we can train as a group starting this week to achieve our mission,” the Daegu Worlds 1500m medallist added.

“What I did in Daegu, I made a mistake of entering Lane 1. In Istanbul, I decided to sit behind Meseret Defar and it worked and this is the same thing I will do in London,” Obiri who was tripped and fell during the women 1500m final in South Korea ending her medal hopes asserted.

While announcing amendments in departure plans for the London 2012 squad on Monday, Nock boss, Kipchoge Keino, said the decision to let the metric milers continue their build-up in the country was reached after discussion with Athletics Kenya (AK).

“I would like to take this opportunity to say that athletes from 800 downwards including the 400m, 400m Hurdles, 4X400m relay, Javelin, boxers and the weightlifter will depart tomorrow (Tuesday).

“The rest will leave on June 22 with the women marathon team following them a week later and the last will be the men marathon but anyone who wishes to go and join the team in Bristol is open,” Kipchoge declared.

“The attitude in Bristol is not much different from Bristol, the facilities there are fantastic. Everything is taken care of, we have physiotherapists and doctors there for Team Kenya,” the Olympics committee boss added.

On 800m runners who had also voiced concerned with the Bristol arrangement, Kipchoge assured there was no reason to be alarmed

“They have to work out on gaining the highest speed for 800m and the relay where some will take part. Some of our athletes trained in London in the past and won gold. What about runners like Sebastian Coe? Didn’t he win gold?” he posed.

He confirmed that the idea to send the Kenyan team was his brainchild before the Government and the Kenyan embassy in the UK joined the effort.

“Athletics Kenya wanted the team to go to Bedford. Would they have said no if the team went to Bedford? They had a written document to take the team to Bedford and if we changed this to take the team there, what would they have said?

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“We consulted AK together with their coaches and we agreed to train in Bristol! We met even before the Trials and all these things are coming from somewhere, not us and AK” the retired two-time Olympics gold winner charged in response to assertions supremacy wars between his body and their athletics federation counterparts had sparked the stand-off.

The Bristol camp is due to close on July 14 before the team leaves for the Olympics village ahead of the July 27 start of the games.

Meanwhile, hurdler Benson Mucheru is the latest addition in the Team Kenya athletics team for London after beating the Olympics A-qualifying standard at the recently concluded African Athletics Championships in Benin.

Mucheru ran 49.45 for bronze in the continental showpiece that beat the London standard of 49.50 and he will join Vincent Koskei who ran 50.31 for fourth in the Olympics.

The freshly minted medallist will be considered for the 4X400m relay after being among the quartet that won bronze in that event in Benin.

“Qualification for London is still open until July 7 and anyone who makes it will be in the team,” Kipchoge ascertained.

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