World 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett will not defend his title during the World Championships due August 4 to 13 in London.
Bett, who made history as the first Kenyan to win gold in sprint events a World Championships, accomplishing the feat during the 2015 event, has been ruled out with a right leg injury.
Bett’s manager, Jukka Harkonen, has to that effect written to Athletics Kenya, briefing them about Bett, who has a serous stress fracture on his fibula bone.
Harkonen said that Bett experienced a sharp pain in his right leg during the Diamond League in Doha on May 5 this year and upon discussion, his athlete took a few days leave.
“The pain came again after the Shanghai meeting on May 13 and he started treatment in Nairobi,” said Harkonen.
Even though the doctor in Nairobi, who conducted an MRI indicated that Bett had no problem, Harkonen decided to take him to Lahti, Finland for further check-up and treatment.
“We took a high quality MRI on June 8 and it was discovered that Bett had a serious stress fracture,” explained Harkonen.
Bett would start two weeks of full rest and then another four weeks of pool work before starting easy jogging after six weeks. He missed the National Championships and Trials on June 23-23 at Nyayo National Stadum.
“It’s after he started to jog that the pain recurred and that is why we decided to have another MRI can on July 31 in Lahti, Finland. He won’t be able to compete at that level in London since it will be risky and the possibility of breaking the fibula bone is too big,” said Harkonen, adding that he has not been able to train well as the world champion.
Harkonen confirmed that Bett will be able to resume training effectively and prepare for the 2018 Commonwealth Games after the results are out on July 31.
“It’s disappointing since my main target was to defend my title,” said Bett, at Team Kenya's training camp at Kasarani where he is still having treatment. “I hope to be back healthy and stronger for the Commonwealth Games.”
Head coach Julius Kirwa said it’s quite unfortunate that Bett will not be travelling to London to defend his title.
“I know how he is feeling now but it’s good that he focuses on treating the injury so as to come back stronger,” said Kirwa, who now remains with one athlete Haron Koech, Bett’s brother in the discipline.
Koech managed to qualify on July 16 at a race in Modova, Italy, where Olympic 400m hurdles silver medallist Boniface Mucheru, who is also the reigning Africa champion, withdrew mid-race owing to an injury.
Koech clocked 49.39 seconds.
Team Kenya is set to leave the country on August 1 for the London Championships, where the country hopes for a replica of the 2015 Beijing competition by topping the medal standing again.