NAIROBI, Kenya, February 28- Reigning World Cross junior champion, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor who was penned as a major prospect for the senior men gold medal in Poland was sensationally axed from the team on Thursday by Athletics Kenya.
Also dropped from the team is Bernard Kipkemoi, a competitor in the junior men squad whose place will be taken up by Michael Bett with no further additions in the team preparing for the March 24 World Cross that will break for the General Elections on Friday.
“Kipsang has never reported to the camp since we named him in the team and has not yet given us his reasons and there will be no replacement.
“Kipkemoi could not avail his birth certificate in good time to process his passport and we have a deadline of three weeks before the competition to process all documents at the Polish Embassy,” AK general secretary, David Okeyo, said in a statement released to the press.
Earlier, the federation had confirmed that Kipsang had indeed linked up with his teammates and the latest development throws the squad in a spin since Okeyo had categorically stated that the athlete had been included in the squad to improve his nation’s prospects in the Holy Grail of the World Cross.
“It is a blow but we have other runners in the team capable of returning the title we last won in Bydgoszcz three years ago to the country,” the secretary told Capital Sport when quizzed over the impact Kipsang’s no show will have on Kenya’s chances to land the crown they lost to Ethiopia’s Imane Merga in Punta Umbria a couple of years ago.
Kipsang won the junior title in Punta Umbria, Spain with a commanding gun-to-tape performance two years ago and was enlisted as a wildcard despite not featuring in the selection event on February 16, an unusual step from the federation that does not compromise on participation in the Trials.
A day earlier, Kipsang had blasted to a world leading career best of 58:54 at Ras-Al-Khaimah that came in the heels over another polished victory at the Kenya Police Cross Championships where he bagged the senior men title.
Coaches led by Sammy Rono will decide whom between Peter Rono, Timothy Kiptoo, Geoffrey Kirui, Hosea Macharinyang, Jonathan Ndiku, Japheth Korir and the second wildcard Vincent Chepkok will be axed from the final squad ahead of the March 20 departure for Poland.
Earlier, speaking to Capital Sport, team leader and Athletics Kenya (AK) vice-president, Paul Mutwii announced the final squad for Poland will be named on Wednesday, a day after the squad members return from casting their ballots in Monday’s polls.
“After discussing with them, we decided to give the athletes a break so that they can participate in the elections.
“We expect them back on Tuesday lunch time and the following day; we shall officially launch the team,” Mutwii stated from their training camp in Kigari, Embu.
The team leader does not project a recurrence of the skirmishes that rocked the country in the aftermath of the last elections in 2007 that led the team to train under armed guard for the subsequent 2008 World Cross in Edinburgh.
There, Kenya posted one of her worst performances at the competition where Ethiopia completed the sweep of all four individual medals.
“We do not expect things to be that bad but in case of any incidents, we have a plan of what to do,” he added.
In another development, Kenya will for the first time enter three teams to compete in this year Penny relays in the USA.
The Penny relays will be held on April 27 in Philadelphia where Kenyan women will compete in the 4X400m and 4X800m events for the maiden time whilst a medley relay for men in addition to the normal relays.
AK will embark on the track and field preparations for the world championships in Moscow Russia this year with the first weekend meeting at Nyayo National Stadium on March 8 and 9.
The federation appealed to all 400m and 400m Hurdles athletes to turn up for selection at that dated.