Kiprop leads quest: Rudisha out of Friday Relay Series with knee injury
By -JONATHAN KOMEN | March 4th 2014
By JONATHAN KOMEN
|Asbel Kiprop wins the 1,500m race at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. Kiprop leads local athletes in Friday’s Athletics Kenya Relay Series at Nyayo National Stadium. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]|
World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop will lead the men charges at the third Athletics Kenya (AK) Relay Series at Nyayo National Stadium on Friday.
Kiprop had been primed to ascend to the throne as the king of the four-lap race, but tactical mistakes and formidable challenge from rivals have seen his sails perforated.
The lanky athlete got his grove back in Moscow’s World Championships, where he won gold in the 1,500m distance.
Many had expected Kiprop to team up with Olympic 800m Champion David Rudisha for the men’s 4x800m relay team, but the world record holder is yet to get over his knee injury.
“I will not be running on Friday in Nairobi,” said Rudisha. “The injury is healed, but my legs lack the strength having been out for so long. I just returned from hospital in Germany and starting running normally now. It will be a while before I hit my top form,” said Rudisha. “After such a long time out
since June 2013 in New York), it takes a while to hit top gear. But the worst is over for me.”
Rudisha, who saw a career threatening injury rule him out of Moscow Worlds, was expected to return to the Kenya team for the newly introduced IAAF World Relays Championships in Nassau, Bahamas, in May 24-25.
Ironically, Kenyan men are the world 4x800m record holders. Kenya holds the world record for the men’s 4x800m at 7:02.43, set in Brussels in 2006, and the 4x1500m at 14:36.23, set in 2009 in Brussels.
In the absence of Rudisha, the AK relays series will have Kiprop teaming up with 2007 world 800m champion Alfred Kirwa Yego and Commonwealth Games 800m bronze medallist Abraham Kiplagat in the chase for places to the inaugural IAAF World Relays Championships in Bahamas.
Athletics Kenya (AK) Public Relations Officer Evans Bosire said they expect to fashion a strong team that would win medals in Bahamas.
“We are asking sprinters in the relay events to turn up. We will compete in events starting with 400m, 100m, 4x1500m, 200m and 4x400m then 4x100m, 4x800m,” said Bosire.
Ferguson Rotich and Anthony Chemut would be back to track to redeem their careers after a dismal show in Moscow last year while Job Kinyor struggles to enter the elite club of Kenya’s 800m greats.
Eastern Africa Youth 400m champion Nathan Biwott and Cornelius Kiplang’at are also in the AK’s start-list released on Sunday. The relay contest in which AK plans to field teams in all five events to the global showpiece will see 4x1500m race turn out as a re-enactment of the London Olympics final.
Kiprop (Asbel) will go head to head with Nixon Chepseba, former world indoor silver medalist Daniel Kipchirchir Komen and former world junior silver medalist James Magut.
The competition will also witness some comeback tales through former World Junior sensations Vincent Leting and Bernard Kaptingei as well as 2011 World Youth bronze medalist Jonathan Kiplimo.
New kids on the block Abednego Chesebe, Hillary Yego and Nicholas Melly are also itching for the prized tickets to Bahamas. Collins Cheboi, Paul Chirchir and Gilbert Ngeno are also in the mix.
Former Olympic 1,500m champion Nancy Jebet Lagat and Sheila Chepng’etich, a finalist in Daegu worlds’, lead women’s 1,500m onslaught.
Hellen Obiri, who is the only Kenyan to have won medal at the World Championships over the 1,500m distance since inception in 1983, will miss out as she sets her sights on the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland (March 7-9).
Two-time world cross-country champion Faith Chepng’etich, who is preparing for Africa cross, is another notable absentee.
But Purity Cherotich, who has not impressed since 2010 when she won the World Junior 3,000m steeplechase champion title, would be out to prove critics wrong.
World 800m champion Eunice Sum is expected to replay her superb final kicks when she joins hands with her mentor and former World Champion Janeth Jepkosgei in 4x800m show.
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