Over the weekend Athletics Kenya held its trials for the upcoming London 2012 olympics. Given Kenya’s massive over-reliance on middle and long distance track events for olympics success, this pretty much amounted to Kenya’s olympic trials. Several other teams, ranging from taekwondo to tabletennis to women’s volleyball, tried and failed to get into the olympics team events. So at the end of the day Kenya has a grand total of 5 competitors looking to try win olympic gold by means other than running fast. Away from the doom and gloom, this blogger reckons that Kenya’s current crop of track stars is about as strong as any that has ever been sent out to an olympic games. They will be looking to match Kenya’s most successful olympics on the track, Beijing, where athletes won all of Kenya’s record 6 gold medals. They will also be doing so without the aid of 3 of the 6 gold medallists. This post will focus on the shorter events on the track (4×400-1500). We start with the 4×400 metre relay. Kenya will be fielding a team consisting of: David Rudisha, Mark Mutai, Anderson Mureta and Vincent Kosgei. In this event Kenya has had at least 2 Olympic silver medals over the years, the first coming in 1968 in Mexico City, where incidentaly a certain Daniel Rudisha (father of current 800m world record holder David) contested. The biggest story around this year’s lot is the much anticipated but still highly unlikely contest between David Rudisha and Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt. Though in truth Kenya does not have the sprint pedigree of some of the other more illustrious nations, this squad should not be denied at the very least the status of dark horses. At least 2 of the 4 were part of Kenya’s success in the commonwealth games and with all th drama that can happen in the relay…I’ll let you put two and two together. On to the next event: the 800 metres. Kenya goes into the London olympics defending both the men’s and women’s titles, thanks to the efforts of Wilfred Bungei and Pamela Jelimo. Bungei will not be able to defend his title, having faded from the spotlight, but Kenya’s eight for the men’s gold should be in safe hands with world record holder David Rudisha, heading a very young and competitive trio. He’ll be joined by Job Kinyor and Timothy Kitum, both products of Kenya’s schools athletics competitions, who are really just stepping onto the senior circuit this year. Having seen off such battle hardened veterans as multiple world championship medallist Alfred Kirwa Yego, just to get into the team, these young men should be more than capable of supporting Rudisha when push comes to shove on the track. In the women’s race, Pamela Jelimo will be hoping to recall her suprise emergence in the 2008 olympics, with a successful title defence following a suprise return to form. Having all but vanished from elite running over the past year or so, she came out and won the world indoor 800m title in style. Then she went and backed it up with a number of barnstorming runs on the Diamond League circuit, to see her re-established as one of the favourites for gold. Winnie Chebet and former world champion Janeth Jepkosgei will also be looking to get into the medal bracket of what will be a rather competitive field. Moving on to the 1500 metres event, one would be suprised how bare Kenya’s gold medal cabinet is given the convinous flow, especially on the mens side, of world class talent in this distance. Once again Kenya will be defending both the men’s and women’s titles in London. In the men’s team defending champion Asbel Kiprop was actually beaten by both his colleagues, Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba at the national trials. Such is the evenness of competition in this particular group. In the women’s team, the absence of defending olympic champion Nancy Jelagat, leaves a rather large vacuum for a fairly young group of athletes to fill. Of the three Hellen Obiri is the most accomplished, having won the 1500m indoor title, earlier in the year. Faith Chepngetich, has multiple accolades at age group levels, but this will be her first go at the senior olympics. The third member of the team, Eunice Sum, certainly has talent but has yet to taste outright victory against the standard of competition Kenya will face to keep the gold medal at home. In the next post I’ll be looking at the athletes representing Kenya in the long distances and the marathon.