Pick the best for upcoming Paris Olympic Games


Hellen Obiri leads in the women's 5000m final during the National Olympics Trials on July 1,2016 at kipchoge Stadium, Eldoret. [File, Stanadrd]

The road to this year’s Olympic Games is gathering momentum as Kenya picks her best for the July-August show in Paris, France.

This is a global competition in which Kenyan athletic talents have wowed the world and demonstrated dominance over the years. After winning the Olympic gold, hundreds of Kenyan runners have gone on to become household names and celebrities.

And on Thursday, Athletics Kenya handed over a team of 11 members to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) for the provisional marathon squad. The team will eventually be whittled down to three members for men and women categories.

Defending champions Eliud Kipchoge and Peres Jepchirchir have made it to the provisional squad and Kenyans will have a lot of hopes in them. And should the duo finally make the cut, they will get a chance to defend their 2020 Tokyo titles.

And indeed as Kipchoge noted after selection, Kenya has 100 days to prepare for the global showpiece. AK, Ministry of Sports and NOC-K have ample time to prepare a world class team in all the disciplines represented. The onus is on them to ensure only the best are picked and then given adequate resources to be in shape.

All sports men and women dream of representing their flag in the Olympics and the ambitions of our best in each discipline must be accorded this opportunity. That way, we will ensure the goose that lays the eggs in athletics especially, continues doing so, today and in future.

When raw talents enter the pitch during trials, beat everyone in the various races, and then get picked to represent the nation, they believe in their nation and fairness in competitions. Indeed, when little-known runners beat big names and they get selected, the beauty of sports is cemented in their often young minds.

None other than the legendary Paul Tergat admitted that Kenya has a huge untapped talent in all disciplines. While speaking to the provisional squad, Tergat, the current NOC-K president, said they are committed to supporting the young and raw talents. He said during their heyday it was unheard of for youth below the age of 24 years, to run well in a marathon.

He also urged the team to run clean for the much-awaited Olympic Games, which means no athlete should be tempted to use banned substances. In the past, some athletes have been caught doping and been disgraced.

Similarly, as the ongoing school games continue, AK and other stakeholders should identify young talents and support them. They can develop a database of talented youngsters still in school and follow up on them. This will ensure no exceptional sporting talents go to waste even as they complete school and join other interests.