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January 18, 2019

Korir worried

Commonwealth Games chief de mission Barnabas Korir / FILE
Commonwealth Games chief de mission Barnabas Korir / FILE

Kenya is facing challenges in selecting a formidable team to the Commonwealth Games slated for Gold Coast, Australia in April.

Chef De Mission to the games Barnabas Korir has cited lack of interest from the country’s top athletes as their biggest hurdle.

There has been a hue and cry over the composition of the marathon team named last month comprising of Kenneth Mburu, Julius Karinga and Nicholas Kamakya in the men’s category with Shelmith Muriuki, Hellen Nzembi and Sheilah Jerotich in the women’s category.

Korir said most of the top marathoners had contractual arrangements with the big city marathons and opted to give the Commonwealth Games a wide berth .

“Most of our marathoners have planned to run in the city marathons like Boston, London in April and it is very hard to get convince them otherwise,” said Korir.

“Others claim they are owed money by the government from previous international assignments and therefore they are not ready to be a part of this year’s edition,” added Korir

Korir said he had bent over backwards and even asked national team coaches to approach athletes who have run 2:05 but up to now, none has responded.

“I have had discussions with coaches for the past one month on how we can bolster the team by picking faster runners but none has come forward to say they are willing to run for the country,” noted Korir.

He observed that they are experiencing the same challenge ahead of track and field trials set for Saturday at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani.

Notable absentees from the startlist include 800m world record holder David Rudisha, world and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Chepngetich and two-time world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor.

Korir observed that some are targeting the start of the track in May including the Diamond League circuit.

“Traditionally, the track season starts in May and the athletes have just started training and the games have come early for them,” added Korir

Korir said apathy towards the club games stems from the fact that the event ranks lower than the World Championships and Olympic Games in the athletes’ eyes.

However, he remains confident of a good show.

“We have a good crop of athletes in our country and I believe they will rise to the occasion and do the country proud,” said Korir.

He was also upbeat about Kenya’s chances in other sports like rugby, boxing, shooting and para-swimming.

“We have a very competitive rugby Sevens team and our boxers too are good despite facing challenges here. Shooting and para-swimming we can do well too,” he observed.

The first batch of athletes will leave on March 24 with the marathoners the last to leave on April 8.

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