NAIROBI, Kenya, August 4- After the disappointment of losing out on the gold in the women 10000m finals on Friday, focus will be on the male athletes in the same distance, to bring home the elusive medal that has evaded Kenya for the last 44 years.
Wilson Kiprop, Moses Masai and Bedan Karoki will don the national team colours starting 11.15pm local time on Saturday as they look to challenge the on-form World Championships silver medallist Britain’s Mo Farah on home soil in what should be yet another thrilling 10000m event.
Kenya has not tasted victory of the Olympic gold since Naftali Temu’s effort in Mexico in 1968 and expect to face another test in defending champion and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and his brother Tariku.
The three were selected for the London Games after they finished in top three during the June 2 Pre Fontaine Classic Olympics trials in Eugene, Oregon, USA where Kiprop triumphed over Masai and Karoki in that order across the line.
Masai, a fourth place finisher in Beijing, is representing their respected athletic family name since his younger sister and 2009 World 10000m champion, Linet and youngest sibling Dennis who won the World Junior 10000m crown in 2010 are missing among in the London contingent.
He will be cheered on by many Kenyans, but most particularly his mother who will be in the stadium courtesy of Proctor & Gamble who footed her expenses under their Proud Sponsor of Moms initiative.
“I feel good that my mother will be watching me. It’s a big challenge since she is expecting me to run well. Linet is not going to London as I was expecting so I know I have to run well. She told me that I will be running for the family in London and this is pressure.
“I have not achieved much since Berlin so this year, I’m going to try something, I’m motivating myself to give my all this time since you do not what will come tomorrow. I almost got bronze in Beijing but I was not experienced as I am now in 10,000m,” he intimated to Capital Sport before they departed for London.
Africa champion Kiprop, withdrew from the Daegu World championships team after a muscle under the right knee pulled up and failed to recover despite every effort made by the team physiotherapists.
With the three all fit for the games, they will be banking on team work to repress the challenge to glory that includes one from closer home through experienced Ugandan Moses Kipsiro.
“It is possible.I remember the 2010 African championships. We talked together, we planned how to get the gold medal for the African championships. At long last I was the gold medallist in the championship.
“It also applied last year. I was to go to World Championships but unfortunately in the last week of preparation I was injured and unable to be there. We were making plans, teamwork that would help us there. This time round we are trying to plan what will help,” he told IAAF website after qualifying in the Eugene trials.
All Africa Games silver medallist, Karoki who is based in Japan will be on his Olympic debut but has run an impressive 27:05.50 this year but remains largely untested.
The home crowd is expected to rally behind Farah, who hasn’t even raced over the distance this year, but has the momentum of four 5000m victories besides been the European record holder at 26:46.57 set in 2011.
Naftali Temu remains the only Kenyan Olympics champion in the distance with Richard Chelimo (1992) and Paul Tergat twice in 1996 and 2000 coming close to bring home the silver.
Athletics Kenya took 14 athletes who were selected during the mini trial in Nairobi on April 17 to Eugene for a final selection to attain the qualifying mark in a highly disputed move aimed at halting the long wait for this decoration.