By Chris Musumba

Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Kirui and Lucas Rotich will represent Kenya in the 10,000m race at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Porto Nova, Benin.

Athletics Kenya, named the trio after the 10,000m Olympics trials in Eugene, Oregon in the USA. However, David Okeyo, the AK Secretary General, said the trio will only be confirmed if they fail in their second bid to qualify for the Olympics, albeit over the 5,000m distance.

The Africa championships will be held from June 26 to July 1 and will serve as the final stop in the qualification campaign for the Olympics to other athletes from the continent, who are yet to hit the qualification times in their respective disciplines.

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Kipchoge wound up seventh in Eugene, behind fifth placed Kirui and Rotich, (sixth) and has been handed the baton for the continental championships, where they will be eyeing to defend the title last won by Wilson Kiprop in Nairobi in 2010.

Selected trio

Kiprop won the trials race in Eugene ahead of Moses Masai, the 2009 World Athletics Championships bronze medallist, and Bedan Karoki. The trio were given the ticket to the Olympics in London next month.

“We however have to give the trio a chance to run in the 5,000 and see if they qualify for the Olympics. They have all expressed desire to seek qualification to London through the 5,000m race and we have to respect that.

“If they make the team, then we will not include them to the Africa Championships. But if they fail again, then they have their tickets for Benin ready,” said Okeyo.

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Another athletes Emmanuel Bett, 18, was overlooked in naming the Africa team because he is still a junior and will have a shot at representing the country at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona next month.

Change of venue

At the same time, AK announced that the National championships will now be held at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani and not at the usual Nyayo National Stadium on June 15-16.

“However, the national trials on June 23-23 will be at Nyayo National Stadium. This was a request made by the athletes and we have to consider it,” said Okeyo.

AK has also announced that the trials selection criteria will be 1-2 across the finish line while the third spot will be filled through the coaches’ wild card in view of the consistence, time and other logistics involved.

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“We will maintain the same selection criteria and we hope to get the best athletes for the Olympics,” said Okeyo.

Kenya faces a difficult task in its bid to improve on its medal haul having won 16 — six gold, four silver and four bronze — in Beijing in 2008, the best ever performance for the country sportsmen. All medals were from track and field competitions.

Meanwhile, Milcah Chemos will continue her performance in bid for the third Diamond League Trophy in Oslo, Norway on Friday. Chemos, who launched her career in Shanghai, during the second round of the Samsung Diamond League in May, has won two races in a row including last weekend in Eugene setting a world leading time of 9:13.69.

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