By Chris musumba
Time will not necessarily be crucial as Kenya’s best 10,000m male athletes clash for the Olympic ticket in Eugene, Oregon in the USA on Friday.
Peter Angwenyi, Athletics Kenya Public Relations officer, said the 14-member team has moved in to Eugene, after spending a day in Portland and was ready for the challenge on Friday.
Japan based Paul Tanui, the World Cross Country silver medallist, finally arrived in Eugene (Wednesday morning Kenyan time) to link up with the other 13 athletes that departed Nairobi on Sunday.
“Tanui has arrived and is catching up with the rest in their training. He looks fit and ready for the challenge and I believe the best three will clinch the ticket to London Olympics,” said Angwenyi.
Eugene, which will also host the Samsung Diamond League race on Saturday, was picked as the venue to select Kenya’s 10,000m athletes, in what AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said was an effort to change tact so as to end the 44-year-old jinx to clinch the gold medal.
Naftali Temu’s victory in Mexico City in 1968 was the last time Kenya clinched the 10,000m gold in the Olympics.
“That is bound to change. We have done everything to inspire and motivate these athletes and when we select three on Sunday, we will consider many things, but mainly their finishing position here.
“They need fast time for confidence purposes going to the Olympics certain of their form,” said Angwenyi.
Eritrea selected its 10,000m athletes for the World Championships last year in Eugene. Ethiopia has picked its Olympic team in the race in Hengelo and Kenya will be the centre of focus on Friday as it follows the footsteps of its nemesis to pick the best three in Eugene tomorrow.
Alongside Tanui, another Japan based Bedan Karoki will rub his hands with glee on the prospects of making a debut for the country in a competition outside Africa. Karoki won silver in Maputo during the All Africa Games in the 10,000m on his debut in the national colours.
But he faces stiff challenge from favourite and former world 10,000m bronze medallist Moses Masai, 2003 World Champion in 5,000m Eliud Kipchoge, World Junior champion Dennis Masai, Josephat Bett, Titus Mbishae, World Half marathon champion Wilson Kiprop and Mark Kiptoo.
Alongside the 10,000m trials, there are other Kenyans who arrived in Eugene and will be running in the Diamond League race on Saturday. They include Linet Masai, Shally Kipyego, Isaiah Kiplangat, and Milcah Chemos.