Kenya’s marathon team to the Tokyo Olympic Games will be picked this month, Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei has announced.
Tuwei said the early selection will allow ample time for the athletes to focus on preparations.
The Olympics marathon and race walk competitions will be hosted in the city of Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture, which is about 800 kilometres from Tokyo.
The shift of venue by the International Olympic Committee was prompted by the high temperatures expected in Tokyo during the July 24 to August 9 Games.
The women’s marathon will be held on August 8 and the men’s race the following day.
In an exclusive New Year’s interview with Nation Sport, Tuwei said the marathoners will be picked early to also allow them discuss with their management and agree if they will be able to take up the assignments.
“This year, we have a tight schedule in our calendar and the big assignment is the Olympics Games where we are tasked to pick a team that will represent the country.
“We have agreed with various stakeholders that we shall name the team so that they can plan their races early,” said Tuwei.
The AK President said that many of the athletes who will be selected to the marathon team will compete in various spring races in April and there is a need for good planning because after April, there will be three months only left for preparations.
“We have listed athletes who have a probable chance of getting into the team and we shall be engaging them so that they can start preparing early for the assignment.
“I know many athletes would love to compete at the Olympics Games but, of course, we can’t take everybody,” said Tuwei.
Tuwei noted that Kenya is keen to retain its titles at the Olympics Games.
“In athletics, we want to improve on the medal table and we shall be discussing with the other members how to win titles in other events,” he said.
In 2016 during the Rio de Janeiro Games, Eliud Kipchoge bagged victory after crossing the line in two hours, eight minutes and 44 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lelisa who clocked 2:09:54 while USA’s Galen Rupp bagged bronze after timing 2:10:05.
In the women’s category, Jemimah Sumgong, who has since been banned for doping, led in the medals chase followed by Bahrain’s Eunice Kirwa, who is also under suspension, while Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba took bronze.
Tuwei also asked the athletes to practise clean sport because Kenya is on the watch list under “Category A” and there is a need to do more in terms of education.
“I want to ask the athletes to desist from anything that will look like they are enhancing their performance. We are under “Category A” which means that we are at risk of getting more doping cases than any other country,” said Tuwei.
He said that the athletes will have to be tested more than three times for them to participate in the trials ahead of the Olympics Games.
“The rules and conditions provided by Athletics Integrity Unit must be adhered to and I want to urge the athletes and their coaches to follow the laid-down rules.
“No athlete will participate in the trials before meeting the conditions,” said Tuwei.
He also praised the elite athletes for participating in the AK Cross-Country Series which kicked off last month in Machakos, saying that it is a good build-up ahead of the various championships.
“I’m impressed by the elite athletes who have been running along the upcoming athletes in the cross-country series. This is a good build-up especially for the track events athletes,” added Tuwei.
Kenyans selectors are spoilt for choice in the marathon with world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei almost sure bets..
Kipchoge is also the defending Olympic champion.