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Bristol dilemma




Athletics Kenya Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat is supporting athletes in rejecting the decision to have Kenya team train in Bristol before the Olympic Games, which stars on July 27 in London.

Speaking on return from Porto Novo, Benin, where he had accompanied Kenya team to the Africa Senior Athletics Championships, Kiplagat said the athletics team technical bench had dismissed the proposal to pitch camp in Bristol. The decision has been communicated to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and the Kenya Olympic Games team Steering Committee. The team was due to leave today.

“We had a meeting with coaches, Nock and Athletics Kenya officials and the decision of the coaches was made clear. It is against the interest of the team to train in Bristol. The same was passed on to Sports Ministry Permanent Secretary and the steering committee. I do not understand why Nock is trying to force the team to train in Bristol,” said Kiplagat.

World 800m champion and record holder David Rudisha commenting on the Bristol camp said there was need to have a consensus on the matter.

“There have been concerns about the Bristol camp but my suggestion is that athletes be allowed to give their opinions and then a final decision be made over it,” said Rudisha.

Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo said her position on the Bristol camp will depend on her management team.

Management decision

“Regarding Bristol, I have not decided on the matter because I need to discuss with my management. We will then decide what is best for me,” said Jelimo who is also the assistant team captain.

But Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic 1,500m champion and World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat said it was wrong to force them to train in Bristol.

“I want to train here and will not agree to move to Bristol,” said Kiprop.

Kenya faced a similar crisis in 1996 Atlanta games, with athetes being forced to train abroad. The result was evident as Kenya struggled to stamp its authority in the games and only won one gold trough Joseph Keter in steeplechase.

“We all know what happened in Atlanta. Is it the same thing that we are preparing for. We have a responsibility to give the team what they want so that they may perform at the games. Nock eneterd the deal with Bristol in 2006 and so much has changed since. We should not kill the morale of the team because of personal interests. We have no objection of other disciplines going to train in Bristol, but they must listen to the athletes demands too,” said Kiplagat.

But Soi stroked controversy when he was quoted saying athletic officials are against the trip to Bristol because they had made a secret plan to have them train in elsewhere. Kenya will have a contingent of 48 in London with track and field taking a huge chunk of the competitors. Athletics have 43, swimming two, boxing two and weightlifting one.

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