James Magayi @magayijim
Bigwigs Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki will not be selected in Team Kenya for the Africa Cross-Country Championships when Athletics Kenya conducts national trials this Saturday at the historic Uhuru Gardens.
Kamworor and Karoki have been confined to the World Half Marathon team due in Spain merely a week after Confederation of African Athletics hosts the continental Jamboree in Algiers, Algeria next month.
“We have so many athletes in Kenya, most of whom are still young and need exposure but that is not to say they cannot perform at the top level. They are the ones to vie for these places as we cannot have athletes in World Half marathon team also participating in the Africa Cross Country,” said Athletics Kenya Director of Competitions Paul Mutwii.
“We gave them a chance to chose one and we are still waiting for responses from some of them,” added Mutwii. Over 500 athletes are expected at Uhuru Gardens for the National Championships which will also act as trials for the Algiers event and AK has ruled out the use of controversial wild cards during the selections process.
The first six athletes to cross the line in five race categories are therefore guaranteed a place in the team. Mutwii said fairness in picking the team will expose unknown talents which in turn provides continuity. During the last edition, Kenya won all gold medals and all but two of the 12 individual medals in Yaounde, Cameroon in 2016.
James Rungaru and Alice Aprot won the senior men and women races in 26:34 and 29:52 minutes in that order while Isaac Kipsang and Miriam Cherop clocked 21:33 and 18:39 minutes to respectively win the junior men and junior women races.
Rules have changed and a mixed relay race added to the cards. At Uhuru Gardens, the junior women’s race will gun off at 8am as the first event with the mixed relay closing the day’s programme. The federation has urged branches to ensure they properly vet age group runners to help the national office weed out age cheating.
“We are struggling to convince the world that our athletes run clean after a really messy doping saga yet another scandal is brewing in our athletes’ ages. Branches must start the verification process from grassroots to help curb this otherwise we will fall again,” decried Mutwii.