The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) has backed down on its demands to have the country’s entire London Olympic squad proceed for Bristol for pre-Games training.
Instead, Nock chairman Kipchoge Keino said athletes qualified for the 800 metres downwards will leave the country today for the one-month Bristol training camp, leaving the distance runners to enjoy the advantages of altitude training.
Also leaving on Tuesday is the men’s 4x400m relay team, the two boxers, one weightlifter and the sole field events qualifier in the javelin.
Kipchoge said the 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase teams, which had been included in the batch that was to leave on Tuesday, would stay behind alongside their colleagues in 5,000m, 10,000m and the marathon.
The rest of the track teams are to depart on July 22 while the women’s marathon team fly out on July 27 for their race on August 5. The men’s marathon team will be the last to depart on August 7 for their race that brings the curtains down five days later.
The decision on Monday means that the Kenyan Olympic team’s captain, David Rudisha, and his deputy, Pamela Jelimo, would both travel to Bristol. While Rudisha is the 800m world champion and record holder, Jelimo holds the Olympic and world indoor titles in the two-lap race.
The resolutions were arrived at following a lengthy morning meeting between Nock, athletes’ managers and the athletes at Kasarani.
The move averted what could have been a major showdown between Nock and the athletes, who had vowed not to leave on Tuesday for Bristol saying it could deny them the benefits of training at high altitude.
Consequently, the press conference that had been convened at the same venue by the athletes’ representative at Athletics Kenya, Noah Ngeny, was cancelled after the agreement.
Put heads together
Kipchoge indicated that any athlete who wished to join those who will be leaving on Tuesday was free to do so.
“We have put our heads together with the coaches and we have settled for the 800m and below since the two-lap race athletes train as sprints, hence Bristol is good for them,” said Kipchoge, a former Olympic 1,500m and steeplechase champion.
He added that the move to have “Team Kenya” train in Bristol was for the good of the athletes.
“So many negative stories have been flying around concerning the training. Let me tell you that three-quarters of training is mental and nothing can stop you from winning it you believe you can do it,” said Kipchoge.
He argued that Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 Olympics head, trained at low altitude to win the 1,500m gold at the 1980 Moscow and 1994 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Interestingly Kipchoge, who was only inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame on Monday, reiterated that Ngeny also trained in Europe for one-and-a-half months before winning the 1,500m title at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
AK public relations officer, Peter Angwenyi, said the teams’ departures have been harmonised as head coach Julius Kirwa termed Monday’s decision on training “wise”.
Meanwhile, Kipchoge said world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who is facing an assault charge in court, would remain in the London-bound team.