Hopefuls to join elite athletes in IAAF and AK Championships
By MUTWIRI MUTUOTA
One would not be wide off the mark terming the IAAF Permit/Athletics Kenya (AK) National Athletics Championships, the country’s selection event for 17th African Senior Athletics Championships (AAC) that start this morning, as the continental event itself and not the pre-amble.
That is mostly as far as mid and long-distance races, where Kenya has cut its niche worldwide, is concerned. For the next three days, a record number of entries, 1,010 to be exact, will chase 144 available slots in the national team for the continental showpiece that runs from July 31 to August 1.
An assemblage of Olympics, world, continental, regional and national medalists will be joined at Nyayo National Stadium by hopefuls seeking their moment in the sun during the rush for the Kenyan jersey.
"This is the highest number we have ever registered for the National Championships or Trials and we will select athletes in all events, including combined events. All athletes who will qualify must meet qualifying standards for AAC . We shall field a strong team, including field events and sprints," AK Secretary General David Okeyo, said yesterday.
He added that although the selection showdown was initially poised to be the test-event for Nairobi 2010, delay in setting up required equipment meant this would not be possible.
"We shall use TOECS trained officials who finished their course recently for the National Championships to test them ahead of Nairobi 2010 but we must conduct a test event mid-July," Okeyo said.
According to the event’s programme, nine finals are on the cards on Day One with the women’s 20km walk decider setting the ball rolling as defending Africa champion, Grace Wanjiru (Armed Forces) leads the charge. Another ten finals will colour Day Two tomorrow, with the rest of national team slots being competed on Saturday when naming of the team to report for residential training on July 5 at a yet to be disclosed location will be named.
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The disciplined forces — Kenya Police, Armed Forces and Kenya Prisons line-ups — contain the country’s most potent athletes, although some AK provincial affiliates contain notable runners.
The athlete everyone is talking about at the moment is Africa champion David Rudisha, the runner tipped to smash the men’s 800m in due course and unbeaten this season is the leading light in Police ranks.
He will join other luminaries from the disciplined forces. The first two across the line get automatic slots in the national team, with selectors choosing a third.
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