Reserve marathoners to be in Rio 2016 team
Athletics Kenya (AK) will select two non-competing reserve marathoners to accompany the team to the selected Rio 2016 Olympics squad, vice-president Paul Mutwii announced on Monday.
Mutwii alongside 1987 world marathon champion, Douglas Wakiihuri were guests on Citizen TV’s Power Breakfast show where he outlined the federation’s plans ahead of the official naming of the marathon squad for the Olympics.
“AK is well prepared for the marathon team; we recently had a meeting with high ranking marathon coaches to go through the list of runners who we had selected. There are six athletes from each team.
“The coaches will then decide which two athletes to drop from each team, where by only four athletes will remain. Three will be taken for Rio then one to remain as a reserve,” Mutwii declared.
Wakiihuri, who won silver at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea, urged the federation to go for athletes who can withstand the hot summer conditions expected at the Brazilian capital instead of plucking for big names who excel in spring World Marathon Majors races.
“Kenya has never ready, we have been performing very well (in city marathons) but I we need to consider the timing when and how we choose our participants. The marathon is special and they need to be given time.
“We have only three months to Rio since London Marathon given that most of our athletes are winter runners and not sure of how they will transit to summer runners since Rio will be hot at that time,” the Rome World champion advised.
“There is still a lot to consider, especially the economic value of the race, now that the Berlin Marathon will come in a few weeks later after the Olympics,”
“The Technical bench should consider the heat in Rio as they make their decision on the final team that will be able to tackle the summer heat,” the first Kenyan to win the global title in the ultimate distance added.
The late Samuel Kamau Wanjiru won Kenya her first and only Olympics marathon gold during the 2008 Beijing Games in an event record of 2:06:32.
Wakiihuri, Eric Wainaina (bronze 1996, silver 2000) and Abel Kirui (2012) are the only other Kenyan men to medal at the Olympics with Catherine Ndereba (silver 2004 and 2008) and Priscah Jeptoo (silver 2012) coming closest to the honours for women.
“We need to set the bar higher by embracing science and technology in sports because apart from Ethiopia the rest of the East Africa community will soon catch up with us,” the 1990 New York Marathon winner emphasised.
The federation will be seeking to win Olympics medals outside the distance running traditional breadbasket.
“We are now putting a lot of effort in middle distance races, we are financially supporting the athletes that are not in events that are well known and feel disadvantaged. For example, in Javelin there are two athletes who have shown interest to catch up with world champion Julius Yego,” Mutwii asserted.