The road to next month’s London Olympic Games proper starts in earnest Thursday morning with men’s qualifying round semi-finals in four track races at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The pre-qualifiers will then pave for the finals on Saturday in what will be the finest gathering ever since last year’s trials for the 2011 Daegu World Championships.
Consequently, national athletics sponsors, the National Bank of Kenya, on Wednesday boosted the national trials with Sh2m sponsorship.
Awash with athletes
The 5,000m race that is awash with 40 athletes guns off the proceedings at 9.30am followed by the 1,500m at 10:00am, 3,000m steeplechase at 10:20am before 800m wrapping up at 10:50am.
Athletics Kenya (AK) president, Isaiah Kiplagat, on Wednesday said they would short-list 20 finalists in the 5,000m while 12 from a field of 20 in 1,500m. The steeplechase has 20 entries but 12 are needed for the final while eight will be drawn from the 800m that has attracted 13 athletes.
First two across line
Kiplagat said the first two athletes to cross the line during Saturday’s finals will gain automatic qualification for the Summer Olympics with the third slot to be decided by selectors committee.
“The selectors consider several factors but mainly sickness or injury,” said Kiplagat adding that the sprinters have been exempted from the trials.
Kiplagat explained that they will try to qualify from the Africa Championships due June 26 to July 1 in Porto Novo, Benin.
He is confident that the sprinters will attain their respective qualifying times and singled out Kenya Prisons’ Ibrahim Muya, who ran 10.29, missing the national 100m record by 0.3 seconds.
Guest of honour
The Olympic qualifying “A” standard time is 10.11 seconds and the “B” standard is 10.24.
The guest of honour on Saturday will be the vice president Kalonzo Musyoka and Kiplagat has appealed to Kenyans to turn out in large numbers to cheer the athletes to Olympic qualification.
Once again, AK will provide the largest contigent of 45 athletes to Team Kenya for the London Games.
Already, the men’s and women’s teams in marathon and 10,000m have been selected.