World 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop has had a brilliant early season and will be looking to maintain his impeccable form when he lines up in his speciality at this week’s Olympic trials on home soil at Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium.
Kiprop, a police officer, will be back to the scene of his stadium record of three minutes, 36.09 seconds looking to prove his super form in the two-day trials on Thursday and Friday.
The sort of form he will hope catapults him to a coveted world record which he will attempt again at the July 15 Herculis Monaco Diamond League meeting where he is a top draw.
Besides Kiprop, organisers of the Monaco meeting have lined up several world champions including South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk (400m), Kiprop (1,500m), Poland’s Piotr Malachowski (discus) and Canadian Derek Drouin in the high jump.
Kiprop has peaked to his season’s best in this Monte Carlo meet in the past four years, with his slowest time at the Stade Louis II Stadium being 3:28.88min and his fastest being a personal 3:26.69, a meeting record which he ran last year and which is just 0.69 seconds outside Moroccan Hicham El-Guerrouj’s long-standing world record.
But first things first, it will be the trials that 27-year-old Kiprop will be focusing on right now.
“Of course, the Olympic trials form the biggest assignment for Kiprop and the rest of Kenyan athletes as this championship determine who goes to Rio Olympics,” Kiprop’s coach David Letting told Daily Nation Sport on Tuesday.
“The trials will also be crucial for him as he gears up to try and better his personal best in Monaco, where he was very close to the world record last year,” Letting said.
He added: “A good performance at high altitude grounds often leads to best achievement in other grounds.”
Kiprop also holds the Kipchoge Keino Stadium’s 800 metres record of 44:34 seconds from two months ago during the Athletics Kenya Track and Field meeting.
At the trials, it will be interesting to see how Kiprop copes against former Africa 2010 Commonwealth Games Champion Silas Kiplagat and fast-rising Elijah Manangoi, the winner of silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year.
Others to look out for on the start list are Kiprop’s pacemaker on the global circuit James Magut, Collins Cheboi, Nixon Chepseba, Japan-based Enock Omwamba and Hillary Maiyo.
Meanwhile, a major security blanket will be thrown over Eldoret from Thursday, with over 400 security personnel being deployed to secure the national athletics Olympic trials.
Kipchoge Keino Stadium, the venue for the two-day meet, has been declared a “security operation zone” with a meeting of top police, prisons, county and private security teams at Eldoret’s Sirikwa Hotel yesterday laying out an elaborate plan for the eagerly-awaited athletics competition.
The Local Organising Committee’s chairman Abraham Mutai and secretary Kennedy Tanui yesterday welcomed National Olympic Committee of Kenya President Kipchoge Keino, treasurer Fridah Shiroya and other executives to shore up the final preparations.
Mutai said entry to the stadium will be free with only accredited persons allowed to designated areas.
So far, over 100 local and foreign journalists have applied for accreditation which will be given out from 8am today at the Sirikwa Hotel which is the event’s secretariat and nerve centre.
The journalists started streaming into Eldoret town yesterday, with many keeping themselves busy at local pubs, soaking in entertainment that has risen a few decibels higher, with bar owners gleefully expecting to make a killing from the two-day extravaganza.
Hawkers were on Tuesday evening overheard summoning an extra supply of compact discs of popular local artistes including Philip Yegon of the ‘Emily Chepchumba’ single fame and the late Junior Kotestes’ whose hits, ‘Chebuchechet’ and ‘Wasiwasi,’ electrify dance floors across Uasin Gishu County.
“There will be strictly no admission to people without official accreditation to the areas of VIP, athletes sections, VVIP, technical, media centre and mixed zone,” Mutai said on Tuesday.
Besides the Kenya Police Service and Kenya Prisons Service, security teams from Riley Falcon Security Services and the Uasin Gishu County Government will also provide officers, sniffer and attack dogs as part of the elaborate security plans.
In the re-jigged trials programme, action starts with the women’s 10,000 metres final at 10:00am which will be the only event of the morning session.
Action in the afternoon session from 1:00pm will feature the men’s steeplechase qualifications, men’s high jump (final), women’s 100m hurdles (final), men’s 110m hurdles (final), men’s long jump (final) and men’s and women’s 100m (both finals).
The 800m and 1,500m semi-finals will precede the day’s final event, the 5,000m men’s final which will be run from 3:30pm.
Mutai added that organisers have settled for the first two across the line earning automatic qualification to the August 4-21 Rio de Janeiro Olympic with the third slot being filled in by Athletics Kenya selectors.
This will allow for the possible dishing out of wild card entries to the Olympics for athletes seeking to double up, like world cross country and half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor.