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Olympic and world champs missing as team to Tokyo named

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | June 20th 2021
Charles Simotwo (188) and Kamar Etyang leading in 1500m during national trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at The Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Two Olympic champions and a world champion were the biggest casualities as Athletics Kenya (AK) named a track and field squad to next month’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto and Vivian Cheruiyot (5000m), who had been named in the marathon team, as well as world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot missed out of the 41-member team.

Kipruto dropped off in the first lap after the water jump while Cheruiyot finished fourth in what raised questions.

But Charles Simotwo, the men’s 1500m winner, said: “When I realised Timothy Cheruiyot was battling injury, I decided to fight for top position.”

It is still unclear if AK will recall any of the athletes when the team reports for residential training.

At the moment though the big names are left licking their wounds and might be forced to watch action from home, unless one of those picked picks up an injury or fail to travel to Tokyo for one reason or the other.

Vivian who won the 5000m gold in 2016 Rio Olympics had earlier been named in the marathon team, but was not in the final squad unveiled at Kasarani yesterday.

KDF’s Hellen Obiri, winner of Women 10000m in the national trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games at The Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Despite the big names missing Kenya’s squad to the Asian nation looks fairly strong as anyone who wins at the Kenyan trials is always a medal prospect at any major championships with the only undoing being inexperience for some.

Ferdinand Omanyala, who set a jaw-dropping 10.02 seconds, alongside Mark Otieno (10.05) at the nationals will be making history as the first Kenyans to compete at the Olympics over the distance.

Omanyala, a Bachelor of Science student at the college of Biological and Physical Sciences at the University of Nairobi, is a former rugby sevens player who switched to athletics. On the other hand, Otieno is a senior human resource officer at a state corporation in Nairobi.

Emmanuel Korir, a student at University of Texas at El Paso in USA, was named in 400m.

 

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