Athletics Kenya’s miserly fielding in international championships backfired in Valencia, Spain on Saturday night when the country ended up under-represented in the women’s race of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
Every country is allowed seven entries but the scoring is limited to the first five finishers. Athletics Kenya (AK), however, in their wisdom or lack of it, entered just five names instead of seven so when two athletes sustained injuries in the lead up to the championships, the federation could not enlist replacements.
Kenya ended up with three names on the start list while all the rival long distance power houses had full compliments. The situation deprived team Kenya their usual tactical advantage and nearly cost Kenya the team title as Ethiopian and Bahraini teams finished in close second and third places.
The individual gold medal which Kenya won in the last two editions was lost to Ethiopia’s Netsanet Gudeta Kebede in the women’s only world record time of 1:06:11.
The overall half-marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei struggled for silver in 1:06:54 ahead of Pauline Kamulu who finished just two seconds behind.
The absence of Fancy Chemuti and Mary Ngugi deprived Kenya its usually imposing numerical presence that intimidates competitors as the country’s third participant in the race Ruth Chepng’etich struggled home to a ninth place finish in 1:09:12.