Kitwara and Ngatuny back from the cold

Tuesday September 15 2009

Sammy Kitwara (center) breaks away from his Kenya Police team mate Gideon Ngatuny to win the 10,000m at the National Athletics Championships at the Nyayo National Stadium in July. Both runners qualified for the World Championships but were dropped from the team to Berlin. Athletics Kenya on Tuesday named them to Kenya’s team to the World Half Marathon Championships that will be held in Birmingham, England, next month. Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO

Sammy Kitwara (center) breaks away from his Kenya Police team mate Gideon Ngatuny to win the 10,000m at the National Athletics Championships at the Nyayo National Stadium in July. Both runners qualified for the World Championships but were dropped from the team to Berlin. Athletics Kenya on Tuesday named them to Kenya’s team to the World Half Marathon Championships that will be held in Birmingham, England, next month. Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO 

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

After a miss on the World Championships in Athletics, Sammy Kitwara and Gideon Ngatuny were on Tuesday handed a lifeline as Athletics Kenya named the pair to the national team for the World Half Marathon Championships scheduled for Birmingham on October 11.

The duo qualified for the Berlin championships but were dropped after they ran in unsanctioned races in USA and Japan prior to the event.

Naming the team of 10 for Birmingham on Tuesday, AK secretary-general David Okeyo also included Mary Keitany, who was second to record-breaking Lornah Kiplagat at the 2007 championships in Udine, Italy.

Last week, Keitany ran the fastest half marathon in the world for a woman this year and the seventh fastest of all time, clocking 67 minutes at the Semi-Marathon de Lille in France. The 1:06:48 she recorded in Udine, however, remains her personal best time.

Only Peninah Arusei, fifth at last year’s championships also won by Kiplagat in Rio de Janeiro last year, has survived from last year’s squad.

he women’s team also has Philomena Cheyech, Philis Ongori and Caroline Kilel while Wilson Kipsang Kipyego, Wilson Kwambai and Benard Kiprop Kipyego are in the men’s team.

“These athletes must confirm their availability either through us or have their manager do it. This must be done before Tuesday,” said Okeyo.

Kitwara’s inclusion is no surprise as he ran 58:58 to win the Rotterdam Half-Marathon last Sunday. The 22-year-old policeman’s performance makes him the fourth fastest ever and the sixth man to dip under the 59-minute barrier.

It was Kitwara’s second major half marathon victory in the Netherlands in the last six months. In March, he won the City-Pier-City half marathon in The Hague, beating the king of road racing, Haile Gebrselassie, who finished second.

Dominated road running

Both Kitwara and Ngatunyi were bundled out of the Kenya team to Berlin for running in Atlanta and Sapparo without AK’s permission.

Kenya has dominated global road running in recent years, winning the men’s and women’s team categories in the two editions of the World Road Running championships and also taking nine men’s and four women’s World Half Marathon team titles.

But the country is yet to win an individual title at either the World Road Running Championships (2006/2007) or the World Half Marathon Championships (1992-2005).