Kenya’s hopes of having a 4x400 metres relay team in the World Championships in Athletics were dashed on Wednesday after a request by athletes for an opportunity to chase the qualifying time in Europe was turned down by Athletics Kenya.
The association’s chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, said the quartet of Thomas Musembi, Mark Mutai, Julius Kirwa and Jonathan Kibet were way below the strength required to make an impact at the global contest in Berlin.
The quartet clocked three minutes, 03.90 seconds at an area permit meeting in Abuja, failing to dip inside the minimum qualifying standard of 3:03.30.
Later, the quartet was dealt a final blow when Sprints coach, Steven Mwaniki, said that the German Athletics Federation had also turned down Kenya’s request to enter a team in a track and field meeting in Dusseldorf this weekend for a final bid to get the qualifying time “because the relay race had not been placed on the programme”.
“They (Germans) said the relay race is not part of the events to be competed in on Saturday. Also, their relay and trials were held two weeks ago, so they couldn’t help us,” he said.
Kenya and Botswana, who had hoped to enter teams at the World Championships, will now have to forfeit their chance as the deadline for qualifications is on Monday.
Mwaniki will, however, still be retained in the national team as he will be training the two sprinters in the squad - national 400m champion, Joyce Zakary of Kenya Police, and Mark Mutai.
At the same time, head coach Peter Mathu has ruled out the possibility of any of his 31 track athletes doubling up at the World Athletics Championship which starts in Berlin on August 15.
However, Mathu remained optimistic, his squad especially in the long distance races will be able to weather the storm from Ethiopian challenge and reaffirm its prowess reminiscent of the performance attained in Osaka, Japan in 2007.
“I have a strong representation in the long distance races, which for long we have battled with Ethiopia. These athletes are ready and focussed on doing well in Berlin. All that is left is psyche them and get them committed to the task ahead,” he said.
Mathu noted that past records will count for nothing when the world converges in Berlin for the biggest track and field competition in two weeks time.
“Even Bekele (Kenenisa) is struggling. The form he had last year is certainly not back. But so is the case with our athletes. We need to get that missing piece in the puzzle in the process of getting these athletes to the peak,” he said.
The coach had to do light training yesterday as the Paralympics team was pitching camp at the Nyayo national Stadium. However, they resumed training at Kasarani after the football match pitting Tusker against Red Berets.
Mathu’s deadline for eight athletes yet to report to camp expires on Friday.
“The ones not in camp are away because they have to condole Vivian Cheruiyot and Brimin Kipruto. But they must report here by Friday and they are aware of that,” he said.