NAIROBI, Kenya, June 19 – Continental Cup winner Emmanuel Korir, who is based in the United States will lead an expected star attraction field for the three-day Africa Games athletics trials to run tomorrow (June 20) to Saturday (June 22) at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani.
There were doubts on whether Korir, the 800m runner will make it for the trials that will be graced by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, but Athletics Kenya (AK) Nairobi boss Barnaba Korir confirmed that he will be among elite athletes to fight for slots to represent Kenya in the multi-sport event to run from August 22 to September 3 in Rabat, Morocco.
However, Commonwealth Games champion Edward Zakayo has been excused from the trials since he comes fresh from winning 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League leg in Rabat, the venue and track that will host the Africa Games.
“Most of the top athletes will compete tomorrow and we look forward to select a formidable team that will do Kenya proud. Emmanuel (Korir) is going to compete, Zakayo is arriving tonight (Wednesday) from Morocco and it will be difficult for him to compete, although all athletes must compete at the trials to be selected. We have invited all the athletes who have met the qualifying standards for the games,” Korir told Capital Sport.
Selection criteria will see the top two to cross the line automatically gaining ticket to Morocco while the rest will be filled by the AK technical team.
AK intends to send a contingent of 74 athletes with the aim of improving last editions results where Kenya hauled a total of 20 medals, 5 Gold, 9 Silver and 6 Bronze to finish third overall.
“We will send a strong team, we are dominant in athletics during the last edition in Durban and we hope to surpass it especially now that we have a strong relay team and field events like high jumpers and long jumpers,” Korir said.
In the last Africa Games in Duban, South Africa (2015), Kenya bagged gold in men’s 3000m steeplechase through Clement Kemboi, men’s 4 X 400m Relay, Margaret Chelimo in the women’s 5000m, Alice Aprot in the women’s 10,000m and Grace Wanjiru at the 20Km Walk women.
Good news is that athletes who would also want to compete at the IAAF World Championships slated for September in Doha can do so since there will be enough time to train for the trials.
“Any athlete who want to compete in the World Championships will have to go for another trial from 15th to 17th of August, it will be good for us to see the same strong athletes selected for Africa Games to also run the World Championships since there will be enough time to prepare,” Korir assured.
With many elite athletes having a tendency of withdrawing out of the African Championships, Korir has urged them to support their own event by honoring the invitation.
“I encourage our athletes to participate in this event that is important in Africa. You realized that IAAF has changed its events especially in the Diamond League, so what we need to do is to as regional countries like Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania is to build our own competition and invite others to compete. If we continue relying in European races eventually, they will concentrate on their own athletes.”