Kenyan swimmers flop in 100m backstroke

Part of the action in the heat competition of the women 100m backstroke at Rio 2016 ...
Part of the action in the heat competition of the women 100m backstroke at Rio 2016 Olympics. PHOTO/IOC/Getty

Kenyan swimmers Talisa Popat Lanoe and Hamdan Bayusuf failed to advance to the semis of the 100m backstroke at the Rio 2016 Olympics on Sunday after trailing the competition during their heats.

Their dismal showing will revive the debate over the controversial selection Kenya Swimming Federation (KSF) criteria that saw the country’s best swimmers locked out of the Games.

United States-based Lanoe swam 1:10.02 to finish in position 33 out of 34 while Bayusuf also placed second from last out of 39 in 1:00.28 to miss out on progression in the event where only the best-16 sailed through to the next round.

The Kenyans hit the pool without head gear, in what will fuel further question on the role of the country’s officials at Rio 2016 who are hoping from one blunder to the next at the Games in a national embarrassment.

Their times were slower than those they posted at the World Championships in Kazakh last year that earned their inclusion to Rio through the universality ticket since no Kenyan made the A-Standard qualification.

Hamdan posted 59.99 while Lanoe stopped the timer at 1:07.05 with the former declining to offer an interview after the heats in what was clear indication the selection scandal had affected the swimmers.

Their build-up to their maiden Olympics was marred by the selection scandal that saw KSF accused of overlooking the country’s best swimmers, Issa Mohammed and Rebecca Kamau from the squad in their favour.

Not even the intervention of Sports Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario or in the case of Issa, filing a case at the Sports Tribunal could reverse the decision after world body, FINA, sided with KSF over the selection.

France’s Camille Lacourt was the fastest in the men’s side in 52.96 while Olympian debutant Winston-Salem native Kathleen Baker won women’s heats with a career-best time of 58.84.

The UK-based Rebecca was the only Kenyan swimmer to go under the B-Standard by swimming 2:18.96 and 2:32.08 in the 200m individual medley and 200m breaststroke.

A week before the Games, she won silver at the British championships in Sheffield, UK in mockery of the Kenyan selection process.

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Story By Edward Mokuah
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