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KENYANS TURN AGAINST KENYANS: Level ground for all to deliver for new home countries

ATHLETICS By DENNIS OKEYO | August 10th 2016
(L-R) Silver medallist Kenya's Helah Kiprop, gold medallist Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba and bronze medallist Bahrain's Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa celebrate on the podium during the victory ceremony for the women's marathon athletics event at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing on August 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO

In recent years, quite a number of runners have denounced their Kenyan citizenship for various reasons.

Some have changed their nationality because of marriage, but the search for greener pastures remains the focal point.

Over 30 former Kenyan runners will be flying different flags for their adopted nations, with Bahrain and Turkey having the largest number of Kenyan exports. This is in addition to Israel and Bosnia.

The 3,000m steeplechase specialist and the immediate former World Junior champion, Ruth Jebet, and Albert Rop (5,000m) will lead Bahrain in their quest for Olympics glory.

Others from the Middle East island country include marathoners Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa and Rose Chelimo, Isaac Korir, Benson Seurei (1,500m), John kibet Koech (3,000m steeplechase) Abraham Rotich (800m) and Abraham Cheroben (10,000m).

Nineteen-year-old Jebet’s time of 8:59.97 is the season’s best in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase ahead of Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng (9:00.01).

The reigning European 10,000m champion, Yasemin Can (Vivian Jemutai), is among the six athletes who have abandoned Kenya’s black, red, white and green flag for Turkey’s red featuring a white star and crescent.

Others includes Tarik Langat Akdag whose birth name is Patrick Kipkirui Langat. He will be running in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase. Ali Kaya (formerly Stanley Kiprotich) will race in the 5,000m and 10,000m and Ilham Tanui Ozbilen (William Biwott Tanui) in the men’s 1,500m.

Kaan Kigen Özbilen (Mike Kipruto Kigen) will compete in the men’s marathon and Polat Kemboi Arikan (Paul Kipkosgei Kemboi) in the 10,000m. Bernard Lagat (5,000m), 41, will be featuring in the Olympics for a record fifth time - two for Kenya (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) and three for the US (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016). He will lead four other Kenyan-born Americans who include Paul Chelimo, Hillary Bor, Leonard Korir and Shadrack Kipchirchir.

Evans Kiplagat, the reigning Seoul Marathon champion, has changed his nationality to Azerbaijan and will also feature in Rio.

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