NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19- Double Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi is still hurting after losing the bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro, following a successful appeal by the French team that he had stepped off the track in the fourth lap.
The appeal saw two time Olympic silver medalist Mehiedin Mekhisi who finished fourth take the bronze and it is from this decision that Kemboi decided to rescind his earlier decision to retire and focus on the marathon.
“I’m still hurting from that because after getting bronze, I had decided to retire. But now that they took my medal away, I want to show them that I still got it and straight away, I’m going to start preparing for the World Championship in London next year,” Kemboi said after leading part of Team Kenya back home to a cold reception on Friday night.
The four-time world champion maintains he made no mistake in the race, adding he saw no need to appeal and will instead show them who’s boss next year in London.
“We were given the IAAF rule book and confirmed that one can step off the line once and it goes unpunished but when you do it thrice, then you are penalized. I did it once and was punished and it was not my mistake. I was pushed. They did not want to hear my case,” Kemboi, who calls him self ‘Baba yao’ narrated.
“I won’t retire now as I had said before. I want to retire when I hear the Kenyan national anthem playing while I’m on the podium. I decided not to appeal that decision instead, we will meet in London,” Kemboi added.
The 34-year old father of two has also given his blessings to youngster Conseslus Kipruto who beat him to the gold in Rio to pick up from where he will leave in London.
“Conseslus is running well and he still has a long time to compete. I have represented Kenya for a long time, for the last 16 years and won two Olympics titles as well as four world titles. This is his first and he has a lot of work to do. He should strive to be like Kemboi. For me, I just have to be there to give him and other youngsters my blessings,” he added.
Others who touched down include marathon champion Jemima Sumgong, 800m duo of Alfred Kipketer and Ferguson Rotich, 400m runner Alphas Kishoyian as well as sprinter Mike Mokamba
Also returning were the body builders and the boxing coaches as well as the men’s Rugby Sevens team.
Meanwhile, Kipketer has told Capital Sport there is no bad blood between him and two-time Olympic Champion David Rudisha after his bizarre tactics in the final caught him by surprise.
Kipketer sprinted into the front after the gun like a 400m athlete, pushing up the pace of the race way too early but Rudisha managed to contain and ended up winning while Kipketer finished seventh.
“He is my friend, we talked after the race and we have been talking as well up to now. There is no enmity. We are all brothers,” Kipketer said.
“I regret how I ran that race because it really cost me. It is not something I had planned. It just happened. We were two athletes (with Rudisha) who wanted to run from the front and I found myself rushing there fast. I agree it was a bad decision but it is a lesson learnt,” Kipketer, who was competing in the Olympics for the first time said.
Ferguson Rotich, the other Kenyan in the race was equally surprised with his team mates start, but said in championship, friendship is always put aside.
-Ferguson blame Anzrah saga-
At the same, Rotich admitted the saga surrounding sprints coach John Anzrah affected him mentally and knocked him off the right frame of mind to fight for a medal in the final where he finished fifth in a season’s best of 1:43.55.
Anzrah was caught in a mix up after anti doping officials pulled him aside at the Olympic village for a random drug test thinking he was Rotich as he had possessed the athlete’s accreditation.
“I want to state very clearly, as opposed to what has been said, coach Anzrah did not give any blood samples to the anti-doping officials. I managed to get there on time and instead gave my own samples,” a visibly dejected Rotich said.
“It really affected me because now people were starting to think that I was evading the anti-doping tests and I was not running clean. It got into my mind and I performed poorly despite the fact that I was in good shape throughout the season,” added the 2016 Diamond League 800m leader.
The athletes will now only have a few days of rest before switching attention to the Lausanne and Paris Diamond League races on August 25 and 27 respectively.