Fireworks are expected when big shots size up at the IAAF Permit meeting/national cross country trials inside Eldoret Sports Club on Saturday.
Athletics Kenya has re-introduced the traditional wild card selection criteria it scrapped in the run-up to the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda.
It will hardly come as a surprise to the athletes over the sudden loss of love and affection as they battle for automatic slots for the first four across the line and every athlete will be longing to finish within the bracket.
The two other slots, for each of the four races, will be decided on coaches’ wild card into the team to the 43rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships that runs in Aarhus, Denmark, on March 30.
After years of playing the understudy, a crop of young athletes who have graduated into the senior ranks are threatening to seize the moment and secure the prized tickets to Denmark’s second largest city.
Yesterday, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) received sponsorship from Kenya Pipeline Company and airline operator, Skyward Express.
Paul Mutwii, the AK Senior vice-president in charge of competitions, said the first four across the line earn automatic tickets into the team while the other two will be decided by a panel of selectors, which is chaired by coach Julius Kirwa.
“We have decided as federation that positions 1-4 will get direct tickets. The remaining two slots will be decided by panel of coaches which will give potential athletes, who could miss the championships because maybe they are sick or engaged in genuine matters, a chance to compete for the nation,” he said.
Mutwii said: “All runners must belong to a region, affiliate or institution. Individual athletes will not be allowed.”
Cross country coach David Letting, who also member of LOC, said they expect to pick a mix of young and experienced athletes to the biennial gala in the Scandinavian nation.
“The start list features some of the top athletes and we will pick a strong squad to world cross country. We have strong young ones like Rhonex Kipruto and Edward Zakayo. The youngsters have showed their potential,“ said Letting.
Leting added: “Preparation is at an advanced stage. The course has been designed to meet world-class standards.”
Abraham Mutai, AK Central Rift Chairman said: “As the hosting region, we are confident that we will have a successful championship. I know that neighbouring counties such as Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet have organized buses to ferry spectators to the event and we expect a high number of fans.”
“The programme will start at 2.00pm with entertainment from traditional dances from Turkana, Nandi, Marakwet and Luo Nyanza.”
KPC’s Foundation Manager Bernice Lemedeket yesterday presented a cheque Sh1.5 million while Skyward Express gave Sh700,000.
“Sports is our business area that’s why we value of this partnership with AK and we will always be available to offer support,” said Lemedeket.
Skyward’s Beatrice Manyala said the airline operator will offer air tickets to officials and winners of the event as well as supplying water and gift hampers for the top finishers worth Sh700, 000.