Kenya begins journey to elusive gold in 10,000m


Kenya begins journey to elusive gold in 10,000m
Geoffrey Kamworor takes his third world half marathon title in Valencia (PHOTO/IAAF/Jean-Pierre Durand)

In Summary

  • Since the late Naftali Temu clinched the first gold medal for Kenya in 10,000m at the 1968 Mexico Games, half a century later and no Kenyan has climbed the highest platform in the  podium at the Games.
  • Kamworor who has been regarded as the man of all surfaces owing to his successes both in track and road running as well as cross country has declared his interest in the 10,000m after missing out on the marathon team

Despite Kenya’s renowned dominance in distance races, the men’s 10,000m gold has proved elusive for the past 53 years stretching over a whooping 12 editions of the Summer Games.

Since the late Naftali Temu clinched the first gold medal for Kenya in 10,000m at the 1968 Mexico Games, half a century later and no Kenyan has climbed the highest platform in the  podium at the Games.

It is however worth noting that some Kenyans across different generations have come close to breaking the jinx; Richard Chelimo (1992), Paul Tergat (1996) and (2000) and recently Paul Tanui (2016) settled for silver.

With just over a month until the start of the Tokyo Games, Kenya is once again set to pick its three athletes who will be tasked to bring back home the medal.

As Kenya’s Olympic trials enters its second day on Friday, some 34 athletes will turn the blue tartan track at the Kasarani Stadium to a battle field.

While all the eyes will be glued to three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, world Under-20 champion Rhonex Kipruto and Commonwealth bronze medallist surprises should not be ruled out as well.

Athletics - 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships – men's 10 000m final – Tampere, Finland – July 10, 2018. Rhonex Kipruto of Kenya celebrates. Lehtikuva/Kalle Parkkinen via REUTERS

Kamworor who has been regarded as the man of all surfaces owing to his successes both in track and road running as well as cross country has declared his interest in the 10,000m after missing out on the marathon team.

“I think Tokyo is important for me. After a disappointing outing in 2016 I am eyeing to redeem myself in Tokyo. Since the marathon team has already been selected all my focus turns to 10,000 where I’ll be trying to qualify. I am actually missing an Olympic medal which I am missing in my career,” said Kamworor in an interview with his management- NN Running Team.

While the half marathon world record holder Kibiwott Kandie won’t compete owing to injury concerns, national athletics head coach Julius Kirwa is still optimistic of Kenya’s chances in Tokyo.

“He has a knee injury and that locked him out from competing in races abroad to seek Olympic qualification time. I talked to him and he told me he is not ready to compete at the trials,” Kirwa said.

“I am not worried, as a country we have many talented athletes so we wait and see what happens at the trials,” he added.

Olympic silver medallist Paul Tanui is also in the mix same as US-based Edward Cheserek and world under-20 5000m silver medallist Stanley Waithaka who is based in Japan.

Elsewhere, world 3000m steeplechase Beatrice Chepkoech will be in action also on Friday and will renew rivalry with former world champion Hyvin Kiyeng and world junior champion Hyvin Kiyeng among others.

Other finals lined up on Friday include; 20km walk race men and women, 400m hurdles men and women as well as the mixed 4x400m relay.

Others are; javelin women and shot put men.

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Story By Gilbert Kiprotich
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