Rudisha says Kenya faces selection crisis for Rio Olympics

Nairobi, June 24 (IANS) It is every athlete’s nightmare to plan on how to sail through the explosive Kenyan trials to select the team to represent the country at the Rio Olympics.

This has been expressed by Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, who despite being the champion, knows he still faces a litmus test to secure the automatic ticket to defend his crown in the Brazilian city in August, reports Xinhua.

Kenya is gifted with huge talent reservoir especially in the long and middle distance races and it boils down to a real battle on the track for the country to select the best three.

This year, the selection will be held in Eldoret from June 30 to August 2.

“Sometime it is tough being a Kenyan athlete. While most other countries are struggling to find a single athlete to qualify for the Olympics, Kenya has over 5000 athletes who have run Olympic qualification times in 2016 alone,” said Rudisha, who has cut off his training camp in Europe to return home in Eldoret for the national trials next week.

Rudisha noted that it is always hard to secure a chance to represent Kenya and everyone selected must hold it dear to his heart the honour represent the country in any event, especially, the epitome of sports excellence, the Olympic Games.

“It is not every day we get the chance to compete for Kenya. Case in point is the men’s marathon, where over 417 men have run Olympic qualification times (2:20:00) in the last six months, but only three can go. How do you select three athletes from a strong squad of 417,” he asked.

Indeed only the first two across the finish line during the trials are assured of an automatic ticket to the Olympics.

The third athlete will have to wait for approval from the selection committee and this decision has been shielded in a lot of secrecy and controversy.

Head coach Julius Kirwa, who led Kenya team to Beijing World Championships last year, where the country ruled the roost in overall medal collections, said they have to pick one more athlete based on merit, consistency, patriotism and balancing purposes.

“That is why we reserve one slot for such athletes. You may fail to do well on the trial day because you are sick or tripped or something happens, which you can explain and we deliberate on it. But I advise most athletes to aim for the top two places,” he said on Thursday.

This affirms Rudisha’s fear that despite being gifted and enjoying their top form, most athletes will return home with a bruised ego as they watch as their Olympic dream, one they have nurtured for seasons, is dashed once more.



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