Former World marathon champion and record holder Catherine Ndereba on Saturday turned Athletics Kenya’s Olympic selectors’ headache into a migrane by declaring interest in a ticket to the London Games.
A straight-talking Ndereba said she has not retired and is working her way back to full fitness after injury.
And her comeback programme is well laid out. On Saturday, she jogged to a 13th-place finish at the Kenya Prisons Cross Country Championships at Uhuru Gardens and next Sunday she will be in the small Dutch town of Schoorl, near Alkmaar, to run the half marathon in the Groet Uit Schoorl Run.
Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat, who attended the Prisons event, however affirmed that the provisional team was final and that the selection criteria would not be altered.
“We cannot bend the rules now, even if anyone breaks a world record,” said Kiplagat. “What will then happen to those selected in the team and future selection criteria?”
At the last Olympics, in Beijing, Ndereba earned a silver medal, as she had four years earlier in Athens.
In 2003 and 2007, Ndereba won the World Championships gold in the marathon. She has also won the Boston Marathon four times and Chicago two times.
After Schoorl, Ndereba will be back in Kenya for training and will compete in the Nagoya Marathon in March.
“I believe Olympic Marathon is not like any other event. It summons for experience and my record speaks for itself,” said Ndereba, 39.
Cees Pronk, the race director at Schoorl, said they were clearing the ice from the roads yesterday to prepare for the run.
‘Great to have Ndereba running’
“It’s been freezing here and if we don’t clear the roads now there will be too much ice,” Pronk, who also organises the Amsterdam Marathon, said. He added: “It’s great to have Catherine here. She has deliberately chosen for Schoorl in preparation for a spring marathon.”
London Marathon champion Mary Keitany, World champion Edna Kiplagat and Berlin winner Florence Kiplagat, as well as Worlds silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo and bronze medallist Sharon Cherop, are in the provisional team for London Olympics alongside veteran Lydia Cheromei.
The appeal by Ndereba, who also won silver at 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games marathons came nine days after the 2010 Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion, Lucy Kabuu made a similar request. This is after Kabuu finished second in Dubai Marathon on January 27 with a blistering time of 2 hours and 19:34 minutes.
Kabuu’s time on her marathon debut was the third fastest by a Kenyan woman in marathon. Kabuu joined the rare sub 2:19 class of Ndereba, who timed 2:18:47 to win the 2001 Chicago Marathon and Mary Keitany, who paced to 2011 London Marathon victory in 2:19:19
“I still hope AK will reconsider their position and include me in the team. I have what it takes to be in London and I hope AK will consider my appeal and pick me,” said Ndereba, who won the 2003 Paris and 2007 Osaka World marathon titles.
“I believe Olympic Marathon is not like any other event. It summons for experience and my record speaks for itself,” said Ndereba, 39, after finishing 13th at the -Kenya Prisons Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
“I have been to Athens and Beijing where I won silvers and for sure if it’s experience then I am ripe since my body is in superlative condition with no injuries at all,” said Ndereba, who has several training joints at Ngong, Nyahururu and Nyayo National Stadium.
Keitany, World champion, Edna Kiplagat, Berlin champion, Florence Kiplagat, Daegu silver winner, Priscah Jeptoo, Sharon Cherop who completed Kenya podium sweep and veteran Lydia Cheromei, are in the provisional team for London Olympics.
Ndereba, who saluted Kabuu for her achievement described the team AK wonderful but said they needed her experience.
The girl (Kabuu) is destined for better things and I respect her for breaking the sub 2:20. It makes me glad to see Keitany, Kabuu and the Kiplagats doing great and that they are firmly following my footsteps,” said Ndereba. “It’s a clear indication that the world record could soon be coming back to Kenya.”