The 2009 World Athletics Championships 10,000m bronze medallist, Moses Ndiema Masai bounced back from injury to prevail during the national 10,000m pre-trials for the London Olympic Games.
Masai, 25, dictated the pace in the field of 17 athletes to triumph in 28 minutes 10.3 seconds and qualify for the national final trials that will be held on June 2 during the Diamond League’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, United States.
Beijing Olympic Games 5,000m silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge finished second in 28:11.0 and Mark Kiptoo third in 28:17.4.
Masai will lead a squad of 13 athletes selected after the pre-trials for the final phase where the first three athletes across the line will make the Kenya team to the London Olympic Games from July 27 to August 12.
However, it was bad news for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games 10,000m bronze medallist, Micah Kogo, who finished sixth in 28:31.0 and Daniel Salel 11th in 28:46.2.
They were left out for not attaining the A Standard qualifying mark of 27:45.00. It’s Kogo, who pipped Masai for bronze at the 2008 Summer Games.
Masai, the 2003 Paris World Championships 5,000m winner, said he was now ripe for a shot the at 10,000m Games.
Nagging hip injury
Athletics Kenya had shortlisted 30 athletes for the 10,000m trials but only 17 turned up for the mini-trials with 15 finishing and 13 making it to Eugene. Head coach Julius Kirwa told those who missed the selection to try their luck in qualifying for the Africa Senior Championships.
Masai said the urge to perform better and run from the front was spurred on by the recovery from nagging hip injury that had kept him out of action for almost four years.
“It felt so good running ahead of the pack especially after regaining my good health,” Masai said. “It’s always tough and consumes a lot of energy when you build your tactics and assault from behind.”
Mourning the absence of key athletes in the trials, Masai said most of his colleagues are turning to road races and marathons owing to lack of track competitions.