NAIROBI, Kenya, June 3- World champion, Asbel Kiprop, will not pull out of Thursday’s Rome Golden Gala despite the threat by Athletics Kenya (AK) to compel top runners to return home for the Commonwealth and Africa Championships Trials scheduled for Saturday in Nairobi.
Speaking to Capital Sport from Rome Tuesday, Kiprop, the two-time men 1500m World titleholder said they had agreed with AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat, in Bahamas that runners contracted to run in the 4th IAAF Diamond League meet of the season would do so before returning home.
“Speaking for myself, I don’t see why they did not push the Trials forward by a week as is the norm after the National Championships and invite us to the Trials to give us time to be ready.
“I’m in Rome now and preparing to run on Thursday and I will be back for the final day (Saturday) and will compete if I’m invited,” Kiprop, who anchored the Kenyan quartet to the world record* of 14:22.22 in the men 4x1500m race at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in Bahamas before finishing seventh at the Pre Fontaine Classic last Saturday added.
This follows a threat from Kiplagat to recall star runners from the Rome Golden Gala to compel for the selection event for the Commonwealth Games and Africa Athletics Championships in Morocco.
Other top Kenyan runners in the provisional Rome Gala include fellow Moscow Worlds champions, Ezekiel Kemboi (men 3000m steeplechase), Eunice Sum (women 800m), Commonwealth Games titleholder, Silas Kiplagat (men 1500m) and Worlds silver winner, Mercy Cherono (women 5000m).
Former Olympics and World champion, Brimin Kipruto (men 3000m steeplechase), 2007 world champion, Janeth Jepkosgei (women 800m) and circuit speedster, Paul Kipsiele Koech (men 3000m steeplechase) are other prominent runners in Rome.
“We are doing this in interest of the athletes. They have been entered in numerous races and we must come in to help protect them from burning out.”
“We need our best athletes here to run for the trial selection competition. But if they are not here by Friday, they will forfeit their chance,” AK President, Isaiah Kiplagat, was reported by Xinhua Tuesday.
“There will be no direct or automatic tickets reserved for any athlete and those elites who are set for Rome will be given a chance to compete in selections as individuals, only if they return back to the country before Friday.”
“We are doing the selection and trials at the same time starting Thursday to Saturday. Those who are planning for Rome have to choose between the two,” Kiplagat added.
The AK president confirmed the selection criteria of the first two across the line getting automatic slots with the third to be decided by a panel of selectors will be in use.
Kenya will have the same squad for both events with the Nationals running on Thursday and Friday before the Trials close the programme on Saturday at Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium in a bizarre decision.
“We will have a reserve team just in case anyone in the team to Glasgow gets injured or could not be fit or deliberate failure to show up in Morocco,” Kiplagat explained.
The Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland from July 23 to August 3 while the Africa Senior Athletics Championships will run from August 10-14 in Marrakech, Morocco.
They will also serve as qualifiers for the Africa team to the Inter-Continental Championships at the same city a week later.