By Omulo Okothin London
Did the Kenyan 1,500m team throw away the race on Tuesday evening? And are the poor performances we are witnessing here a red herring?
Is there something else that is not coming out yet, but is responsible for what we are seeing here?
These are the questions that emerged after the three Kenyans made a fool of themselves before some 75,000 athletics-mad Britons, who packed the Olympic Park Stadium here and millions of other global television audience on Tuesday night. It was ugly, obnoxious and hideous.
Asbel Kiprop, who was until then the Olympic champion, just jogged from start to finish, compounding an already messy situation of Team Kenya here and subjecting us to an embarrassing spectacle.
When I put to him the question directly, he fumbled with an answer, shifting his eyes from left to right without saying anything concrete. He stuck with the line of being injured in Nairobi. When the same question was put to him conversely, especially regarding the Algerian new Olympic champion, Taoufik Makhloufi, Kiprop said: “I don’t know. All I can say is I am very innocent.”
Silas Kiplagat, who knew his more illustrious compatriot was injured, was not in contention at all. He said he did not know what happened to him. How can you not know what happened to you in a race of this magnitude?
Nixon Chepseba, like a few other Kenyan athletes snobbishly walked past the media, without as much as acknowledging their presence.
Might the trio have been aware of something Kenyans did not know? Might they have deliberately run badly to avoid some kind of scrutiny? The two denied this, but a member of the team management, who sought anonymity, was due to raise these questions. He expects to share this with a higher authority to, if possible, commence investigations.
There is palpable anger, anguish, frustration and devastation on Kenyans here in London and certainly back at home, if messages we have received here are any measure.
A fan, Ezra Odhiambo wrote: “Our 1,500m men have flopped badly. I now see one of our poorest Olympics staring at us. I can only put my faith in David Rudisha. Any gold beyond that is a bonus”.
There are other compelling factors that could contribute to a dismal performance at this Olympics. A recent verbal altercation between AK and National Olympic Committee of Kenya as to whether the team was to train in Bristol or not gives a wide of range of possible causes of this poor performance.
NOCK officials don’t seem to work in unison, a situation which is prevalent here in London as was the case with Ezekiel Kemboi’s unexpected departure to Kenya. Nobody seemed to know who had changed the date of his ticket.
The media might have hyped the expectations of Kenyans, but it was based on the facts on the ground.
Kiprop, Kiplagat and Chepseba had run the fastest times of the season. A 3:28.88 for Kiprop in Monaco, 3:29 for Kiplagat and 3:30 for Chepseba.
An inquiry into the performance of the team needs to be done. It is not every day that Kenya flops like this at the Olympic Games.