A tall order
World record holder David Rudisha will headline today’s 800m mini-trial as he tests the waters ahead of the National trials proper on Saturday. The battle for slots in the national team to London Olympics Games gets underway today with the pre-trial event at Nyayo Stadium today. The mini trial is being used by Athletics Kenya (AK) to come up with the finalists in various events during trials. According to AK public relations officer, Peter Angwenyi a large number of athletes have hit the Olympic qualifying times and the mini trials will held them come up with only the finalists. “We want to have straight finals during trials hence the reason for the mini-trials. Usually, when you crowd the finals, its very easy to lost your best runners to injuries,” he said. Men’s runners in 5,000m, 3,000m steeplechase, 1,500m and 800m will also go through mini-trials.
Kenya has 40 athletes in the 5000m who have qualified and 20 in 3,000m steeplechase. The 1,500m has 21 while 800m boosts 14. But as much Rudisha is already focusing on the Olympic Games, he will have to once again prove that his is above his local counterparts. He will line-up against former world champion Alfred Kirwa Yego, Africa bronze medallist Jackson Kivuva and Commonwealth champion Boaz Lalang among others.
His wide experience and class will be put to test as he faces upcoming sensations Leonard Kirwa Kosencha and Timothy Kitum, who have had a great season this year. Job Kinyor, Abraham Kipchirchir, David Mutinda and Anthony Chemut will be the other greenhorns to watch. The 5,000m race equally promises thrills with the ‘who is who’ in the event jostling for the Olympics tickets. The field which boosts a lot of experience include Eliud Kipochoge, Edwin Soi, Vincent Chepkok Geoffrey Kipsang and Isaiah Kiplangat among others.
Kipchoge returns to his specialty after failing to make the 10,000m team that was selected in Oregon earlier this month. He is expected to give his competitors a run for their money, knowing very well what is at stake. Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop hopes to get another shot at the 1,500m title. He will, however, have to make do with the likes of Silas Kiplagat, Nixon Cheseba, Bethwel Birgen, Augustine Choge, Haron Keitany, Caleb Mwangangi, Geoffrey Barusei, Daniel Kipchirchir, Elijah Kiptoo, Gideon Gathimba among others.
National athletics head coach said the 3,000m steeplechase race could be a direct final owing to the number of athletes who will confirm attendance. By yesterday, 19 athletes had been included in the start list but Kirwa said if 16 or less athletes turn up, then they will go directly into the final. The athletes who will qualify in their disciplines will join the fray in the trials proper set for Saturday after a day of rest tomorrow.