IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
US long distance running star Galen Rupp is unfazed by the avalanche of Kenyan athletes taking up American citizenship, saying he is focused on his own performance.
Rupp, a bronze medallist at last year's Rio Olympics marathon, told Nation Sport on Friday that his main goal is to perform well at global events, like the Olympics.
At last Sunday's IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, four of the six US runners in the senior men's race were ex-Kenyans, namely Sam Chelanga, Leonard Korir, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei.
But Rupp, also a record eight times US 10,000 metres champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist over the distance, sought to sidestep the issue saying "there are some things one can't control."
Of the ex-Kenyan US quartet in Kampala, Baringo-born Chelanga, who got his US passport just two years ago, was best placed at 11th place in the men's 10km race, after which he delivered a controversial tweet saying he "would not recommend racing in Africa."
However, Rupp steered clear of the controversial issue when asked about running in Africa, instead stressing that he was happy to train in the US, close to his wife and three children, who include a set of twins.
"I've never been to East Africa and I prefer training at home close to my wife, family and keeping the routine. Park City, Utah, and Portland are pretty much the places I usually like training in," he said.
Rupp, who comes into Saturday's Prague Half Marathon with a personal best time of one hour and 30 seconds (1:00:30), is using the race to prepare for the Boston Marathon on April 17 and wouldn't be drawn into the debate of athletes changing nationality which is currently being discussed by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
"I'd really like to focus on myself and what I do which is to compete against the best of the best, and the best of the best are always at the Olympics. I wanna keep myself as focused as possible to run my own races," the Alberto Salazaar-coached runner said.
The IAAF recently constituted a working group to look into the issue of wanton nationality changes.
At the Kampala championships last Sunday, the entire Turkish team was made up of ex-Kenyans while Bahrain fielded a couple of Kenya-born runners including the Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion and world record holder Ruth Jebet.
Rupp sees a bright future in US long distance running saying the country now has a lot of role models who have won Olympic medals and who are inspiring young runners.