The participation of 3,000m steeplechase defending champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, at the World Championships hangs in balance after the athlete failed to travel with the rest of the team on Monday for the Moscow competition.
Team manager, Benjamin Njoga, said he had forwarded Kemboi’s name to Athletics Kenya President, Isaiah Kiplagat, for action after the athlete secretly changed his flight schedule without his prior knowledge.
Njoga said it came as a surprise to them when Kemboi just appeared at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport indicating that he has changed his flight to Friday on grounds that “the Moscow weather would affect him”.
“He never indicated anything about his fears while we did the arrangements; he just thought of mentioning that today (Monday) as we were leaving,” said Njoga. “We have forward his case to AK President for action since it goes against the spirit of the team.”
The men’s steeplechase semi-finals are due August 12, and the final on the 15th. Kenya’s team is made up of Kemboi, who’s also the Olympic champion, Olympic bronze medallist, Abel Mutai, World Junior champion, Conseslus Kipruto, and the 2012 Diamond League Series winner, Paul Kipsiele Koech.
When Kiplagat visited the team in camp last week, he appealed to those who wished to travel separately to change plans to suit those of the team as booking them on different flights to Moscow would have been tricky or downright impossible.
The AK head left for Moscow on Saturday where he was due to attend the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council meeting Monday and the IAAF Congress that begins on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, team captain and javelin thrower, Julius Yego, called on Kenyans to pray for his team as they left on Monday for the World Championships.
“No matter how good someone is, guidance from above is necessary; we need Kenyans’ prayers,” said Yego, adding that they have always put God first in everything they have done for the 20 days they have been in camp.
Yego said that although expectations are high, the conditions at Moscow would be different but that the team was committed to bettering the Daegu result, which is now being used as a standard.
On his part, Yego said he is going to the World Championships satisfied after Athletics Kenya finally hired him a coach, Joseph Mosonik.
“Even though it has just been for a week, I have gained a lot and honed my techniques,” Yego said. “The results of his input will be manifest.”
But he regretted leaving the coach behind, and asked the athletics body to make travel provision in future. “It’s awful for someone to travel without a coach but I will manage.”