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National trials crucial for athletes with wild cards

Thursday September 12 2019

Kenya's Timothy Cheruiyot celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's 1500m during the IAAF Diamond League competition on July 12, 2019 in Monaco. PHOTO | VALERY HACHE |

Kenya's Timothy Cheruiyot celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the men's 1500m during the IAAF Diamond League competition on July 12, 2019 in Monaco. PHOTO | VALERY HACHE |  AFP

BARNABAS KORIR
By BARNABAS KORIR
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Finally, the national athletics trials for the 2019 World Championships are here, and we are all anxious to see who makes the team to Doha.

Being the opening day of the trials at Nyayo National Stadium, all eyes will on Thursday be on the top runners, and the tension is evident. Lucky are those with wild cards, although it is not a guarantee that one will be in Doha.

Technically, wild cards are supposed to be a guarantee but some events stand to have complications. That is why the safest way for most wild card holders is to take part in the trials.

Geoffrey Kirui (marathon), Faith Chepng’etich (1,500 metres), Conseslus Kipruto (3,000m steeplechase), Hellen Obiri (5,000m) and Elijah Manang’oi (1,500m) are all eligible to defend their titles.

In addition, Timothy Cheruiyot (1,500m) and Beatrice Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase) are also assured of team places after winning their respective races in the just concluded IAAF Diamond League series.

Men’s 1,500m, for example, has a slight complication, with Athletics Kenya having already announced that the top three in every race will make the trip as long as they have the qualification mark. Besides, only a maximum of four athletes in every cadre can make the trip.

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This is why it is important for the two wild cards in 1,500m to participate in the event. Sitting out of the race will mean we end up with five in the race and this poses a challenge for the selectors.

Others like Chepng’etich, Kipruto and Chepkoech are safe but again it is important for them to compete to help the selectors gauge their form.

Obiri, having qualified in the 10,000m and Kirui in a marathon, can wait for their flight.

However, we need to cast our net wider and look at the other events, especially the sprints and field athletes, who are fresh from doing well in the African Games in Morocco.

We cannot afford to narrow down on the wild cards because athletics is bigger than this.

Going by the results in Rabat, it is time we started building up on both sprints and field events. We have tasted gains in field events before and we know if well handled, we can mint extra medals here. In any case, one loses nothing by showcasing his/her prowess in front of home fans, especially in short and middle distance races.

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