The first four athletes across the line in the straight events final of the Safaricom National Relay Trials Saturday will make Kenya’s team for next month’s World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.
However, the trials that start with the finals of the flat races at 2pm will be without some of the country’s finest athletes.
World 1,500m bronze medallist Hellen Obiri and 1,500m specialist Bethwell Birgen. Obiri, who won silver medal in 3,000m at the World Indoor Championships last month in Poland, is reported to have travelled to the United States of America for a meeting with her manager.
Meanwhile, Birgen, who represented the country at the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 Moscow World Championships, is out with an injury. Athletics Kenya public relations officer, Evans Bosire, yesterday said that even in the absence of the two athletes, the field is still rich.
“We expect the first four athletes across the line to make the team while the next two will be decided by the panel of selectors,” said Bosire, who added that he expects some world or national records to tumble.
“We have the electronic timing system and the wind gauge in place and in good condition.”
Kenya holds both the men’s 4x800m and 4x1,500m world records while the women’s new time of 4x1,500m has not been ratified since it was hand-timed.
Joseph Mutua, William Yiampoy, Ismael Kombich and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games 800m champion Wilfred Bungei set the 4x800m record in a new time of 7:02.43 at the Memorial Van Damme meet on August 25, 2006 in Brussels, Belgium.
The 4x1,500m record also fell at the same meeting three years later when William Biwott Tanui, Gideon Gathimba, Geoffrey Kipkoech Rono and Augustine Kiprono Choge ran 14:36.23.
Interestingly, a team of world 800m champion Eunice Sum, Hellen Obiri, Anne Karigi and Margaret Chelimo ran inside the world record time in the 4x1, 500m race during the final of the National Relay Series on April 5 at Kasarani but Bosire said the hand timing system is not recognised. The team covered the race in 17:08.17.
“Obiri is key to our mission in Bahamas and the selectors are likely to give her a reprieve in 1,500m,” said Bosire.
The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) chairman Kipchoge Keino, Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch, head coach Sammy Rono, former international sprinter Joyce Odhiambo and former World 1,500m champion Noah Ngeny are in the panel of selectors.