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Relay team collides out of Olympics

NAIROBI, Kenya, August 9- If it rains, it pours, so goes the adage and for Team Kenya at London 2012, the fall from grace continued on Wednesday during the morning session of Day 7 of track and field action when the men 400m collided out of competition.

Making his second Olympics appearance since Athens 2004, Vincent Mumo Kiilu, the athlete who went out in the second leg of the heats, did not expect his return to fall flat on the track after he got into a costly tangle with South Africa’s Ofentse Mogawane.

Besides ending the aspirations of yet another medal prospect for the country as London 2012 edges towards its close, the clash also poured cold water to the mouth watering prospect of David Rudisha versus Jamaica’s Usain Bolt.

An appeal by Team Kenya officials was thrown out by the referees and the Jury of Appeal consequently reinstated South Africa to the final after the review found Mumo culpable of causing the incident.

“RSA have now been advanced to the final as an additional team by the Jury of Appeal. The Referee cannot advance a team or athlete who did not finish the race, the Jury of Appeal can,” the Deputy Communications Director at IAAF, Anna Legnani, confirmed as Kenya were disqualified from the competition.

What transpired in that split moment saw both affected runners end prostate on the tartan with television replays suggesting the Kenyan was pushed by the South African who lost his balance as they came for the final bend.

Mumo limped back up to pass the baton to Boniface Mucheru, the African 400m hurdles bronze winner and by the time the anchor, Alphas Kishoiyan completed the race, Kenya were placed last in 3:21.01 in the first heat.

Even if the Kenyans had wriggled their way out of the heats, Jamaica’s quartet in the second heat Dane Hyatt, Riker Hylton, Jermaine Gonzales and Errol Nolan joined South Africa in recording the undesired DNF statistic after ending their races early.

Kenya’s hopes of a third medal at the lap-relay at the Olympics since silver in 1968 and gold in 1972 therefore, went up in smoke as the team’s coaches also made the bizarre decision to rest Commonwealth 400m champion, Mark Mutai for the final where it was hoped Rudisha would run the anchor leg.

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Sprint star Bolt, who won the men 100m final in a Games’ record of 9.63 was also interested in competing in the 4X400m after running in the 200m and 4X100m races.

Needing to finish among the top three in the heats or wait for the lottery of the two fastest losers, the men relay heats got off well for Kenya when Boniface Mweresa, went out in the first leg and brought the baton to Mumo in third place.

Mumo, the 1999 World Youth 400m bronze winner was then boxed into the pack as he held on to the inside lane before Mogawane seemed to lose his footing and come crashing into the Kenyan.

The South African ended his race at that point and was in considerable pain as he was led to the bowels of the stadium on a stretcher to receive treatment after he fell heavily into the metallic railing at the edge of the track.

Team Kenya officials immediately launched an appeal to the referees with the hope that they could be awarded another favourable verdict, the second in London 2012 after Nixon Chepseba was reinstated to the men 1500m semi finals after colliding with American Matt Centrowitz in the event’s heat.

But this time, it was they who pledged to apologise to South Africa for the collision.

But in keeping up with the trend that has established itself sadly for Team Kenya at these Olympics, yet another chance at the medal table slipped out of the country’s team in what is shaping up to be a nightmare performance.

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