#London2012: Kenya’s team to the Olympics Part 2

In this post I take a look at Kenya’s representatives in the middle and long distance events (3000m s/c-10000m). In the steeple chase Kenya’s men’s team go into the Olympics with the challenge of continuing a gold medal winning streak dating all the way back to the 1968 Mexico City games. In fact Kenya have never won a gold at the olympics without its men’s steeplechase team coming up trumps. The 3 men who will likely have the task of continuing this tradition are themselves no slackers. Consider the fastest man at this event this year, Paul Kipsiele Koech didn’t make the cut. There is current world athletics champion Ezekiel Kemboi. He is accompanied in the team by defending olympic champion, Brimin Kipruto, and relative new comer Abel Mutai. If one could say that it would take something extraordinary to stop these three completing a sweep, then something quite extraordinary has. In the past few days it seems that Kemboi, has gotten himself arrested and charged with assault in a stabbing incident in Eldoret town. So far he claims to be the victim in what may have been a set up. Subject to the high court or Athletics Kenya’s decision, his participation in the Olympics might not be so certain. Even so, Kenya will still look the favourites to secure gold. The women’s steeplechase team on the other hand looks much more less troubled. Its star athlete, Milcah Chemos being the fastest in the world this year and a former Diamond League winner. Despite her considerable consistency, in the discipline she adopted about 4 years ago, she has yet to come good in a major championship final. In the last world championships, she and her Kenyan compatriots simply had no answer for the Russian contingent’s front running. Perhaps with more experience, she can finally land gold. Her compatriots, Lydia Rotich and Mercy Njoroge, despite living in her shadow for the bulk of the part few years, are by no means slouches at the steeplechase. All have positive results at Diamond League and World Championship level and, as this blogger reckons, ideally suited to the sort of team tactics Kenya will employ to guarantee the gold comes home to Kenya. On to the 5000m, despite continually producing athletes who are more than capable elite runners, Olympic gold (and major titles in general) have generally eluded Kenya’s men in this discipline recently. The last big win this blogger can remember being Eli ud Kipchoge becoming world champion in 2003. This has largely been in part to the presence of two truly legendary Ethiopian track stars, Haile Gebresellassie and Kenenisa Bekele. The three Kenyans set to try break this jinx are Isaiah Kiplangat, Edwin Soi and Thomas Longosiwa, Soi and Longosiwa have both tasted defeat at the olympics to one of these legends and though it has proved elusive so far, I hope that this time round they find a way to get gold in what will be one of the most star studded races at this olympics. The women’s prospects are about as bright as they have ever been with the rise and rise of current world champion Vivian Cheruiyot. Together with Linet Masai, who’s loss of track form means she misses out on this olympics, have combined to win gold at 5000m and 10000m at the last 2 athletics world championships. A strong contender for her first ever olympic gold she represents an athlete who only lately develop the so called ‘big game mentality’ having run a few major events prior to her break out year in 2009 without medaling. She will be joined by US based Sally Kipyego, a silver medallist at world championship level. The two of them will also run the 10000 metres event. The final member of the 5k team is Viola Kibiwott. Kenya’s first ever gold medal in an Olympics came in the mens 10000m race in Mexico 1968. No Kenyan has won gold in the event since then. This time round Kenya sends the 2010 African Champion, Wilson Kiprop, Beijing 4th place finisher Moses Masai, and Brian Karoki. In qualifying for the right to represent Kenya in London, Kiprop set a world leading time and in winning the african title he did beat a strong Ethiopian contingent. Can he however land for Kenya a medal that has eluded greats such as Kipchoge Keino, and Paul Tergat? Moses Masai, and Brian Karoki have plenty of exposure on the word circuit, with Masai particularly having quite a bit of success on the cross country circuit. Can they come good on the olympic stage? This blogger hopes so. In the women’s event, previously mentioned Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego will be joined by Joyce Chepkurui.

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Author: kimemiamaina

blogger, writer, dreamer...

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