GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR SAWE: Chef De Mission Soi says he is still pursuing high jumper’s inclusion in Rio

By BISMARCK MUTAHI: Thursday, July 28th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
High Jumper Mathew Sawe in training session ahead of Rio Olympics 2016 at Kipchoge Stadium Uasin Gishu County on July 19, 2016.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

High jumper Mathew Sawe’s dream of participating at the Olympics might not be over, after all.

Sawe, a Kenya Defence Forces athlete, was hoping to make his debut at the Rio Olympics next month after winning an Africa title in Durban last month, but his mark did not hit the Olympic qualifying standards.

However, Team Kenya Chef De Mission Stephen Soi yesterday gave him a glimmer of hope.

“We are still pursuing Sawe’s case because he is an Olympic Solidarity scholarship holder,” Soi told Feverpitch on phone from Rio de Janeiro yesterday.

The Olympic Solidarity was started to assist all the National Olympic Committees, particularly those with the greatest needs, through multi-faceted programmes prioritising athlete development, training of coaches and sports administrators, and promoting the Olympic values.

Soi and his team in Rio will therefore be hoping that the International Olympic Committee will listen to their case and include Sawe in the team due to Olympic Solidarity consideration.

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Sawe became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal at a major event when he jumped 2.21m in Durban to beat home boy and favourite Fourie Keagan (2.18m) at the Africa Athletics Championships.

He is the national record holder with a mark of 2.25m which he set during the IAAF World Championship trials in Kasarani, Nairobi, last year, but missed championship required standard entry by three centimetres. The Olympic qualifying mark is 2.29m.

Soi also sought to set the record straight, saying the National Olympic Committee - Kenya had not dropped any athletes who had made the Olympic qualifying marks.

When news first broke of Sawe and the 4x400m team missing the Olympics, many athletics followers thought they had been unfairly denied the chance to represent the country in Rio next month.

DENIED OPPORTUNITY

“Our 4x400m team is ranked 18th while those eligible for the games are the first 15, with Brazil getting one slot automatically.

Therefore, no athlete who qualified for Rio Olympics was denied an opportunity to participate in the games,” said Soi.

According to IAAF qualification rules, a relay team can qualify for the Olympics by either finishing among the first eight placed teams at the IAAF World Relays Bahamas (2015), which Kenya did not make the finals.

Kenya had finished fifth in the second heat which was won by eventual champions United States of America.

The first two teams in the three heats qualified for the finals plus another two fastest losers, which Kenya’s team with a time of 3:05.92 was not enough.

Alternatively, a team can be invited by the IAAF as the best ranked to fill the remaining quota places by event according to IAAF World Ranking list of July 12, this year, based on the aggregate of the two fastest times achieved by national teams in the qualification period which put Kenya at number 18.

Only a maximum of 16 qualified teams are allowed at the Olympics in each relay event and that knocked Kenya out.

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