Kenya marathon runners await Olympics decision
4/24/2012 1:30:01 PM -
NAIROBI (AFP) - In just a week's time the Kenyan athletics selectors will reveal the final list of the men and women runners who will represent the country in the 2012 Olympic marathon in London in August.
The women's list appears all but sealed after Mary Keitany inspired a Kenyan podium clean sweep in the London marathon, whereas in the men's selection selectors face a headache to pick the best three runners from a star-studded field.
The results in both the Boston and London marathon -- which were used as the Olympic trial races -- have made the selection even harder and it is likely that some of the athletes drawn from the shortlist Olympic men's squad of six named in January may not make the team.
Kenya's Wilson Kipsang, the second fastest man of all time, went clear in London of a class field in the closing stages and won in a time of two hours, four minutes and 44 seconds, taking the gold medal.
However there were disappointments in the London marathon for three of Kenya's male runners, including Patrick Makau, the world marathon record holder who pulled out half way through the race.
Two-time world champion Abel Kirui and defending London champion Emmanuel Mutai finished sixth and seventh respectively.
Former national athletics coach Dan Muchoki believes the added motivation of trying to break Makau's 2:03:38 world record may have contributed to the Kenyan men's race discrepancy in London.
"Their tactics were wrong from the start. The way they ran showed they were all targeting the best time", said Muchoki, who is also a national selector.
"Marathon running is an individual event. Once you've worked out a race plan, you must stick to it to the end. The Kenyans tore themselves apart," he added.
He warned that the athletes who have returned the fastest times in the marathon in April would, if picked for the Olympics, not been fully fit to compete in London on August 12.
"We have to look at the recovery period. A runner who has clocked 2:04 needs more than six months to recover before returning to the track, while someone who has ran 2:12 has restored energy and can successfully compete," said Muchoki.
"Remember it is not the athlete with the best time that wins the Olympics," he said.
However, current head coach and fellow selector Julius Kirwa said Kenya has a big pool of runners to select from considering the incredible successess from both Boston and London with both dominated by Kenyans.
"When you have so many options it is easy to select the team. We will have no problems," said Kirwa.
"We have all the potential of going on to retain the men's title, and also winning the women's title for the first time," he added.