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Athletes victorious in departure row with Nock

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NAIROBI, Kenya, July 16- The simmering feud between officials and Team Kenya distance runners over departure for London 2012 Olympics was resolved on Monday when the athletes were given leeway to decide suitable dates.

A meeting between athletes, National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock), Athletics Kenya (AK) and Ministry of Sports officials led by Sports Secretary, Prof. Wilson Langat ended the impasse that had seen the distance runners who remain the nation’s medal breadbasket threaten to revolt.

“In other words, the athletes have been given the freedom to choose the dates of departure so long as they are within the time frame of their competition,” AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat summed the judgment arrived at after discussions that took the better part of the day at the team’s training camp at Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Consequently, Worlds silver winner, Sally Kipyego will be the first among the squad still in the country to leave for London on June 26 with bulk of the squad led by their captains, world record holder, David Rudisha and Olympics champion, Pamela Jelimo departing on June 30.

The men 5000m runners as well as the men marathon squad will travel for the Olympics on August 4 and 7 according to the team manager, Joseph Kinyua who spoke to Capital Sport after the athletes finalised their plans.

Athens Olympics steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, who is embroiled in assault charges, chose to leave for the Nock-organised Bristol training camp in London that closed on Monday with the advance party that includes sprinters and the lone Javelin men thrower, Julius Yego, proceeding to the Olympics Village.

It was the second rebuttal by the distance runners to the prearranged departure schedule by Nock after the athletes forced the Olympics governing body to back down from sending them to Bristol.

AK boss Kiplagat, sided with the runners in vehemently opposing the plans in what was interpreted as an all out supremacy battle between the federation and Nock led by retired legend, Dr. Kipchoge Keino.

The row has been bubbling since the camp convened after the June 23 Trials as top athletes offered to pay their own tickets to London in a bid to avoid what they termed as adverse limitation of training at low attitude to their medal chances.

Nock had stated the initial date of departure for the bulk of the team would be this Sunday (June 22) after earlier attempts to shift mid distance runners to Bristol on July 3 fell through after stiff resistance.

“There was no major problem after all concerning the dates of departure. The June 22 departure of the main team had been prepared long time ago and arrived at by the Steering Committee chaired by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport.

“The date was arrived at for many reasons and activities that had been lined up from June 22 to the actual date of opening on July 27. This plan has not been deviated from, what we have done today is after consultations and arriving at amicable solution,” Langat said.

Terming the resolution as ‘minor amendments’ Langat explained, “The concessions have been made for the good of this nation and these athletes. All Kenyans should pray for the team headed for London, there is no problem here in the camp.”

Team captain, David Rudisha, welcomed the settlement saying, “We can now focus on performing to our best in London.”

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