ELDORET, Kenya, July 1 – Once again world record holder David Rudisha was floored as Athletics Kenya selected a strong team of 52 athletes to represent the country at the Rio Olympic Games.
The team that was named on Friday after the conclusion of the two-day Trials conducted at the ‘City of Champions’ in Uasin Gishu County will report camp July 4 in Eldoret.
Olympics defending champions Rudisha and four-time world champion, Ezekiel Kemboi headline the star-studded squad that will be tasked to bring glory to the country just as they did at the 2015 Beijing World Championships where Kenya topped the world.
Deputy President William Ruto, who was the chief guest, said the government will add Sh300, 000 to Uasin Gishu County’s Sh250, 000 to erect stands at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium.
With the Trials being held at the punishing elevation of 2000m above sea level, some athletes found it tough with dropping out of the race being the order of the day.
‘King’ Rudisha failed to rule in front of a packed stadium as Ferguson Rotich seems to have found the formula to stop the world champion who finished third in 1:44.23 behind former world junior champion Alfred Kipketer who won the 800m in 1:43.73.
“It was a tough race but I am happy to make it to the team. Yesterday was tougher and I had a good time 1:43.4, so I hope to improve and I am looking forward to defend my title at the Olympics,” a disappointed Rudisha said after the race.
Rotich, who is leading the 2015 Diamond League chart finished second in 1:44.05 to see him beat Rudisha thrice this season.
In the corresponding 800m women’s race 2013 world champion Eunice Sum was shown dust by fast rising star world junior champion Margaret Nyairera.
Starting from the middle of the pack, Nyairera accelerated at home straight to clinch the automatic ticket to Rio in 1:58.27 ahead of Sum (1:59.63) while Winnie Chebet completed the podium (2:00.16).
-Kamworor, Karoki wild cards-
Despite dropping out of the men’s 10,000m race, world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor and his old time rival Bedan Karoki made it to the team after being handed wild cards.
“I am happy to make it to the team, I had prepared well but with three laps to go, I suffered stomach problems. We make a good team and I hope all goes well in Rio,” Kamworor told Capital Sport.
As expected world champion Hyvin Kiyeng dominated the women’s 3000m steeplechase that missed 2015 Diamond League winner Virginia Nyambura.
Kiyeng, the Diamond League leader, returned 9:28.33 ahead of Beatrice Chepkoech (9:41.87) as Lydia Rotich came home third (9:48.47).
Vivian Cheruiyot’s dream of doubling at the Rio Games came true as she won the women’s 5000m in 15:01.60 ahead of second placed Hellen Obiri who is swiftly transiting from the 1500m.
Obiri, who missed the 2015 season to welcome her first born produced a sterling performance after leading the better part of the race before fading to second to finish in 15:13.45.
Mercy Cherono, who is experienced in the race, settled third in15:25.51 to also book a slot in the Olympics after Veronica Nyarwai limped out.
Asbel Kiprop starred in his home town after starting from behind to win the 1500m race in 3:38.21 ahead of world silver medallist Elijah Manan’goi (3:38.48) as Ronald Kwemoi clichéd the last spot (3:38.80)
Faith Kipyegon Chepng’etich dominated the women’s race in 4:06.71, beating Nancy Chepkwemoi (4:10.00) and third placed USA Viola Lagat (4:11.93).
There was no competition for javelin star Julius Yego as he threw 81.04 to join African champion high jumper Mathew Sawe as the only field athletes named in the team.
Closing the day was an eye catching race in the men’s 3000m steeplechase final where Kemboi, who refers himself as ‘Baba Yao’, slowed to finish third behind world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto and winner world bronze medallist Brimin Kipruto.
The trio were separated by seconds as Brimin Kipruto clocked 8:27.68 ahead of Diamond League leader Conceslus Kipruto (8:27.86) as Kemboi returned 8:27.95.
“As you know I am Baba Yao, I had to guide them in the race. It was a fantastic race and I believe we will do better like we did in Beijing at the world championships. I am grooming Conceslus because this might be the last Olympics for Brimin and I,” Kemboi underscored.
Team Kenya for Olympics
Calvin Nkanata, Mike Mokamba (200m), Nicholas Bett, Boniface Mucheru, Aron Koech (400m H), Alphas Kishoiyan, Boniface Mweresa, Alex Sampao, Raymond Kibet (400m), Alfred Kipketer, Ferguson Rotich, David Rudisha (800m), Asbel Kiprop, Elijah Manag’oi, Ronald Kwemoi (1500m), Brimin Kipruto, Conseslus Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi (3000m steeplechase), Caleb Mwangangi, Isaiah Kiplagat (5000m), Paul Tanui, Charles Yosei, Bedan Karoki ,Geoffrey Kamworor (10,000m), Eliud Kipchoge, Wesley Korir, Stanley Biwott (Marathon), Samuel Gathimba, Simon Wachira (20Km Walk), Mathew Sawe (High Jump), Julius Yego (Javelin)
Maureen Jelagat (400m H), Margaret Nyairera, Eunice Sum, Winnie Chebet (800m), Faith Chepng’etich, Nancy Chepkwemoi, Viola Lagat (1500m), Hyvin Kiyeng, Beatrice Chepkoech, Lydia Rothich (3000m steeplechase), Maureen Jelagat, Magaret Nyairera (400m), Vivian Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri, Mercy Cherono (5000m), Vivian Cheruiyot, Betsy Saina, Alice Aprot (10,000m), Helah Kiprop, Visline Jepkesho, Jemimah Sumgog (Marathon), Grace Wanjiru (20Km Walk).