Search for elusive Olympic medal begins at Nyayo
Posted Monday, April 16 2012 at 20:00
The road to the London Olympics begins at the Nyayo National Stadium when Athletics Kenya holds the men’s 10,000m pre-trials at 3pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Kenya’s top cream, comprising 31 athletes with Standard A qualifying time (7:45.00), will battle for places in the 15-man squad to Eugene, Oregon, USA, at the annual Prefontaine Classic track and field meeting on June 2.
Athletics Kenya will use the IAAF/Samsung Diamond League meeting to select the three-man team for London Olympics 10,000m.
AK whittled down the number from 46 athletes after excluding athletes with Standard B (28:05.00) mark from its residential camp in Eldoret.
AK national coach Julius Kirwa said the athletes were in top form for the selection meet.
“The athletes are ready for the championship. But I know the battle will not be easy since the world’s best will clash,” said Kirwa.
“The Olympics is the most prestigious competition in which every athlete would wish to make the national team. Already, tension is building among the athletes.” Kirwa said the entry number might fall below 31 after some athletes competed in races abroad at the weekend.
“We will have a slight short. An athlete like Jacob Cheshari (who competed at the Sunday’s 32nd ABN Rotterdam Marathon) will miss out. But let the best make the team,” said Kirwa.
Former world 5,000m silver medalist Eliud Kipchoge and former 10km all-time best Micah Kogo will headline the line-up.
Kipchoge, an Olympic 5,000m bronze (2004) and silver (2008) medalist, is keen to tuck the Olympic ticket under his medal-laden belt.
“I want to finish in top 15 to ensure I make my three-time appearance at the Olympics and on 10,000m race. But pressure is high given the stiff challenge,” Kipchoge said.
Kogo, an Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist in Beijing, has his task cut out. He wants to improve his pecking order in the ten-lap race at the Olympics.
“I need to qualify first then come up with a strategy to make team. I have the experience and expect to make it. We need to sharpen our finishing kicks to counter athletes like Imane Merga of Ethiopia in 10,000m,” said Kogo, who posted his 27:01 10km world’s second best time in the Netherlands.
Several key athletes are likely to miss Tuesday's action. They are 2007 Osaka World Championship 10,000m bronze medallist, Martin Mathathi, last year’s national champion, Peter Kirui and the 2008 World Cross Country Championships silver medallist, Leonard Komon.
The field is still rich with 2009 Berlin World Championship 10,000m bronze medallist, Moses Ndiema Masai expect to call shots alongside the World Half Marathon titleholder, Wilson Kiprop and the reigning World Cross junior champion, Geoffrey Kipsang.