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April 20, 2018

Egg on the face: Marathoners fail to prove critics wrong with poor display in Gold Coast

Jessica Trengove of Australia, Helalia Johannes of Namibia and Sheila Jerotich of Kenya
Jessica Trengove of Australia, Helalia Johannes of Namibia and Sheila Jerotich of Kenya

The controversial Kenya marathon team failed to prove critics wrong after a poor show at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.  
All the six Kenyans finished outside the medal bracket with Sheila Jerotich the top runner in fourth in the women’s race in a time of 2:36:19.
Ironically, Nicholas Kamakya’s time of 2:40:18 was slower than the top six athletes in the women’s race. Namibia’s Helalia Johannes won the country’s only gold medallist in the event after posting 2:32:40.
Hosts Australia took silver and bronze through Lisa Wightman (2:33:23) and Jessica Trengove (2:34:09) respectively. The second Kenyan Shelmith Muriuki clocked 2:47:53 for 10 position while Hellen Nzembi bowed out.
Jerotich led temporarily until the 30km mark, in 1:49:29, but the acceleration seemed to take a toll on her as she relaxed her pace. Trengove picked up the pace until the 35km mark, where she arrived in 2:07:38. From here, It was Johannes turn as she hit the 40km mark in 2:25:12 before sealing the race.
It was all drama in the men’s race with Kenyans nowhere near the top five places.
The best Kenyan was Julius Karinga in position nine in a time of 2:24:26. Kenneth Mungara followed in 10th in 2:25:42 with Kamakya finishing 16th.
Australia’s Michael Shelly took advantage of Scottish Callum Hawkins predicaments at the 40km mark to win the race in 2:16:46.
Hawkins led the race from the 20km mark but the harsh conditions took a toll on him, forcing him to the ground with only two kilometres to the finish line.
Uganda’s Mark Mutai settled for silver in 2:19:02 while Robbie Simpson was third in 2:19:36. Northern Ireland’s Kevin Seaward was fourth in 2:19:54 with Liam Adams of Australia closing the top five places in 2:21:08.
Karinga admitted that the hot conditions, at 27 degrees centigrades, had punished him or rather, the entire Kenyan team.
He said his mistake was to train in cold conditions in Ngong, Kajiado County.
“We were training in cold and rainy conditions back home yet things have not been the same here,” he added.
He said at some point, he ran out of gas and was forced to run at his own pace rather than compete. “I saw many people fainting and I didn’t want to run that risk, so I decided to run my own race,” he added.
In a new turn of events some of the coaches who sought anonymity said the marathon team was imposed on them by one of Athletics Kenya (AK) officials.
“We had options but we were told that we can only work with the selected athletes and that was final,” the tactician said.
He said they knew the team would do very little because of their poor records and average age.
“Some of the runners have been there for over 15 years and can’t keep up with latest changes in marathon running. If you can run slower than the top six women winners then that speaks a lot about your form,” said the official.

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