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Will Conseslus, Omanyala make Olympic team? Athletics Kenya releases start list for selections

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | June 9th 2021
Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto celebrates after winning the athletics men's 3000m steeplechase final during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on April 13, 2018. [AFP PHOTO]

The adrenaline levels are running high as the Tokyo Olympic national trials fast approaches.

On Wednesday, Athletics Kenya released the start list for the selections set for next week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Top guns now tune up their form ahead of the Olympic selections often billed as the toughest athletics selections in the world after the USA.

Kenyan trials are notorious for producing hitherto unknowns, who often treat established world-class stars with disdain and the selections set for Kasarani cannot be ruled out.

Hellen Obiri competes in the Mixed Relays during the AK/LOTTO National Cross Country Championship at the Ngong Race Course on February 13, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

AK said all athletes must have attained qualifying standards as stipulated by World Athletics and must have also undergone mandatory Anti-Doping education and testing as required by World Athletics’ Athletics Integrity Unit.

As it has been the tradition, the first two athletes to cross the line will earn automatic slots to the Olympic Games –as long as they have met qualifying standards.

The third slot will be decided by a panel of coaches.

The showpiece puts to test the maxim on whether Kenya will hold firm grip in their traditional race, the men’s 3000m steeplechase –which is regarded as a race ‘Made in Kenya for Kenyans.’

After a heated debate, it remained a riddle as to whether men’s defending champion Conseslus Kipruto will make it into the national team after he was charged in a Kapsabet court where he denied defiling a 15-year-old girl in November last year.

He was released on Sh200, 000 cash bail.

Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto at the dock at Kapsabet Law Courts in Nandi County on November 16,2020 [Christopher Kipsang,Standard]

Conseslus, who has been away from the limelight since then, will take on Diamond League speedster Benjamin Kigen as well as Commonwealth Games silver medallist Abraham Kibiwott, world under-20 3000m silver medallist Leonard Bett, Lawrence Kipsang, Nicholas Bett, Barnabas Kipyego among others who have hit Olympic qualifying times.

Hellen Syombua stands out as the only 200m athlete to bask in qualifying time just as Emmanuel Korir in 400m contest. So far, no participant has qualified in men’s and women’s 400m hurdles race.

Eunice Sum, the 2013 world 800m champion, is among stars staging their comebacks after disappearing off the limelight for long. Sum and Emily Cherotich are the only athletes to have qualified.

Mary Moraa, who posted an impressive 1:19.95 in Finland recently, must be at her best to make the cut.

Ferdinand Omanyala, the men’s 100m national record holder, who posted 10.11 seconds in a meet in Nigeria and had been handed a doping ban for violating doping regulations, has been invited into the selections.

Ferdinand Omanyala celebrate 800mts men race at AK trials second series at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday, Jan 23, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

He will battle Mark Otieno, Elijah Onkware, Mike Mokamba, Samuel Chege, Moffat Ngari and Hesbon Oduor.

These stars have a mountain to climb as they must attain qualifying times at the national trials.

World 800m bronze medalist Ferguson Rotich, Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal, US-based duo in Emmanuel Korir and Michael Saruni, Elias Ng’eny, Cornelius Tuwei and Jonathan Kitilit will slug it out in the men’s two-lap race.

Defending champion David Rudisha misses out.

Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha celebrates after he won the Men's 800m Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 15, 2016. [AFP PHOTO]

Olympic 1500m champion Faith Chepng’etich and Winny Chebet are the only athletes with qualification marks in 1500m.

In the men’s race, world champion Timothy Cheruiyot leads eight stars who have qualified.

They include George Manangoi, Bethwel Birgen, Ronald Kwemoi and Vincent Simotwo.

World 3000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, Olympic silver medalist Hyvin Kiyeng, Cellephine Chespol, Mercy Chepkurui and Mercy Wanjiru have qualified in the water and barriers race.

Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri, Agnes Tirop, world 5000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo, Lilian Kasait, Eva Cherono will battle in 5000m as Lomuket Mark, Nicholas Kimeli, Jacob Krop and Edward Zakayo battle in men’s race.

Tirop will lead the battle for women’s 10000m ticket alongside Rosemary Wanjiru, Obiri, Sheila Chepkirui, Evan Cherono and Irene Jebet Cheptai.

Rhonex Kipruto must be at his best to counter Rogers Kwemoi, Bernard Kibet, Vincent Kibet and former world 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworor in men’s 10000m battle.

Rio Olympic medallists in action

Faith Chepng’etich 1500m (gold)

Hyvin Kiyeng 3000m steeplechase (silver)

Hellen Obiri 5000m (silver)

Conseslus Kipruto 3000m steeplechase (gold)

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