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Athletics Gala shortlist out, hopes still high

Wednesday March 18 2020
By BARNABA KORIR

Assuming that my fellow Kenyans voted as I had advised last week, I’m still hopeful that we can run away with at least one of the titles at the Athletics Awards Gala on November 23 in Monaco.

Out of the initial five nominees shortlisted for the awards, we are down to two, but I’m still very optimistic that we will not leave Monaco empty-handed.

Truth be told. Our athletes have performed extremely well and the remaining two — Brigid Kosgei and Eliud Kipchoge — were, to say the least, phenomenal and the world cannot pretend not to have seen that.

Kosgei, the world record holder, is among five finalists for the Female Athlete of the Year award after the initial list of 11 nominees were whittled down. Kosgei won last month’s Chicago Marathon in a world record time of two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds to break Briton Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old mark.

She will be up against American Dalilah Muhammad, who broke her own 400m hurdles world record to claim gold at the world championships, Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas and the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan.

Kipchoge, on the other hand, became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours in an unofficial event in Vienna last month and will be up against Americans Sam Kendricks and Noah Lyles, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Norwegian hurdler Karsten Warholm.

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But if things don’t go our way, we will still be grateful and we will take solace in the fact that we have dominated the season, especially in the marathon.

I can hardly remember a marathon race where Kenyans were not on the podium. Track stars also did well, especially at the World Championships in Doha and the Diamond League, and, as Athletics Kenya, we would like to congratulate them.

The fact that they were dropped from the top five shortlists should not be misconstrued to mean they didn’t perform. We are proud of them and we are looking forward to next season where the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be the main highlight.

I am sure with the kind of momentum we have had this year, we can no doubt take athletics to the next level. However, we also need to intensify the war against doping to ensure our runners are clean.

As I warned earlier, those who think there are shortcuts in athletics will be sorry and they are on their own. Athletics Kenya is currently working very closely with Athletics Integrity Unit and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and for our athletes, there is nowhere to hide.

The government has also announced tough measures not only for the athletes but also for the supporting teams whenever they are caught. For now, I want to cross my fingers and see how things pan out in Monaco.

Korir is the Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch chairman. [email protected]

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