NAIROBI, May 4 – Questions are bound to be raised on preparations and make-up of Team Kenya for the second IAAF Bahamas World Relays that slumped from third to seventh overall when the championships concluded at the T. Robinson Stadium in Nassau on Sunday.
From winning three gold medals at the same venue last year to two silvers this term, the squad was locked by the controversial withdraws of its biggest stars, two-time world champion, Asbel Kiprop and world junior record holder, Ronald Kwemoi.
Many other distance stars among them record holder, David Rudisha, world champion, Eunice Sum and former world titleholder, Janeth Jepkosgei were not invited for the Trials in March after not meeting Athletics Kenya (AK) requirement of competing in the domestic Safaricom Relay Series prior to the selection event.
Like in the opening day on Saturday, Kenya failed to hit the heights on Day 2 when the quartet of Abednego Chesebe, Alphas Kishoiyan, Ferguson Rotich and Timothy Cherotich were beaten by the world record run of the United States who clocked 9 minutes, 15.50 seconds in the men’s distance medley.
The team of Kyle Merber (1200m), Brycen Spratling (400m), Brandon Johnson (800m) and Ben Blankenship (1600m) improved on the nine-year-old record of Kenya, thanks in part to an outstanding last leg by their anchor who clocked in 3:51.24.
Blankenship took over in front but was over a second-and-a half outside the world record pace. He then saw experienced Cherotich got pass him 200 metres into the first lap and quickly establish a 20-metre lead, but the American held his nerve and started to reel in his rival.
By the bell, Blankenship was on the shoulder of Cherotich and then passed him on the final bend before visibly gritting his teeth down the home straight, well-aware that the Kenyan was going through the pain barrier as well as both men could see what was happening on the big stadium screen in front.
Blankenship, racing in his first major international competition, had enough in the tank though to go into new territory for the event as Cherotich brought Kenyan home in second place, clocking 9:17.20.
Australia took the bronze medals in 9:21.62.
Alex Sampao, Boniface Mweresa, Joseph Losanga and Raymond Kibet were disqualified in the men 4X400m on Sunday in the heats to follow the similar fate that befell Alfred Kipketer, Nicholas Kipkoech, Timothy Kitum and Jeremiah Mutai on Saturday with poor baton handling once again proving to be behind their distasteful exit.
On Saturday, the women’s medley relay quartet of Selah Busienei, Joyce Zakari, Sylivia Chesebe and Virginia Nyambura ran 10:43.35 for silver in the only other occasion the team scaled the podium with Kenya falling to seventh on 15 points this term.
Annet Mwanzi, Sheila Chesang, Sylvia Cherop and Eglay Nalyanya (8:33.15) finished last in the women 4x800m race as the men 4x400m team of Alex Sampao, Boniface Mweresa, Michael Makan and Alphas Kishoyan (3:05.92) crashed out of the heats by finishing fifth on the opening day.