NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – The last time Kenya won an Olympics gold medal over 10,000m was all the way back in 1968, when the late Naftali Temu claimed the title.
Ever since, Kenya, a formidable force in middle and long distance running, has tried all but in futility to win the race.
Briton Mo Farah has been dominant over the distance since 2012 when he won the Olympic gold medal and has won in the last two world championships, beating the Kenyans at it. Kenya didn’t even place within the medal brackets in London 2012, the best finisher being Bedan Karoki who finished a distant fifth.
But the Kenyans, Karoki included in a field that has World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tanui will lay ambush at the title and Farah for that matter when they line up at the Olympics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro early Sunday morning.
Kamworor showed Farah a snippet of what to expect when he floored him at the World Half Marathon Championship in Cardiff early this year, beating him to the gold and Karoki coming second to force the Somali-born Briton to contend with a bronze.
The two Kenyans, Karoki and Kamworor are feeling in decent shape despite giving a scare to all and sundry during the Kenyan trials when they failed to finish a grueling race won by Paul Tanui in Eldoret’s high altitude.
However, they were handed wild cards to Rio, joined by World Championships bronze medalist Tanui and will hope to finish the job, showing Farah just who is boss.
“I feel I am in good shape and since I arrived here in Brazil, my focus has been on today’s race. I hope we will work as a team to make sure we do well for Kenya. I know Mo will be a threat to us, but we have equally prepared well for him. But it is not only about him as there are other equally good runners who will want to win an Olympics title,” Kamworor told the Saturday Standard in Rio.
But the attention, as Kamworor rightly puts will not only be on pre-race favorite Farah. Ethiopia’s 2012 World Junior champion Yigres Demalesh carries into the field the world lead time of 26:51.11 picked during the Ethiopian trials.
He will be joined in the field by compatriots Tamirat Tola and 18-year old Abadi Hadis.
Also to be looked out is USA’s Galen Rupp who won silver behind Farah in London, and he comes into the race with a tough schedule as he is also expected to do the marathon on the last day of the Olympics.
Rupp shares a coach with Farah and will likely attempt a complementary racing strategy. He will be joined in the US team by Kenyans-turned-Americans Leonard Esau Korir and Shadrack Kipchirchir.
Another native Kenyan in the field of 34 athletes for the race is Bahrain’s Abraham Nabei Cheroben.