By Myles Edwards. Reporting from Iten, Kenya
Athletics Kenya, this morning announced that all Gold medal winners from the recent World Championships in Daegu will be selected for the London 2012 Olympics.
This would be standard practice for most countries and require virtually no announcement nor analysis. However, look into this a little deeper and you see just how bold, and potentially foolish, this statement is. World 5000m gold and 10,000m silver medallist, Mo Farah – barring injury or a catastrophic drop in form – will be selected for Great Britain at our home Olympics. The same goes for Dai Greene following his impressive 400m hurdles gold medal in Daegu earlier this month. The difference being that UK Athletics do not have to deal with the possibility that other athletes could potentially break world records between now and London.
Kenya has a bottomless pit of talent at their disposal across all distances above 400 metres. This is most comprehensively demonstrated in the marathon, particularly in the male event. What makes the race inLondon even more special for Kenyan athletes is the tragic passing of current title holder Sammy Wanjiru earlier this year. His run to victory in Beijing captured the hearts, not only of a nation, but the world as a whole as he won Kenya’s first ever Olympic marathon gold medal.
Each country is allowed to select 3 representatives for the 26.2 mile event at London 2012. This morning’s announcement guarantees Abel Kirui one of those berths. Along with his personal best of 2.05.04 (Rotterdam 2009) his impressive 2.06.54 to scoop gold in Daegu has cemented his place. Also on the plane to London is newly crowned world record holder Patrick Makau who, on the streets of Berlin, took 21 seconds off Haile Gebreselassie’s previous mark to run a time of 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds. Already Kirui and Makau have welcomed the decision saying that they will give Wanjiru a fitting tribute by regaining his title inLondon. This leaves one slot up for grabs.
- Speaking with Wilson Kipsang last week, he is in good shape to get close to the world record inFrankfurt, a month from now.
- Emmanuel Mutai, the reigning London Marathon champion is due to run the New York City Marathon in November.
- Geoffrey Mutai recently clocked 2.03.02 inBoston to make him the fastest man in history. Unfortunately the IAAF did not deem the course to meet their criteria for world record eligibility due to the percentage of downhill from point to point. He will also runNew York.
- Finishing four seconds behind Geoffrey in Berlin was Moses Mosop who already this year has a world record to his name over 30km on the track, running 1.26.47. Just last week, in preparation for the Chicago Marathon on October 9th, he completed a training run of 40km in 2 hours 6 minutes.
Whilst today’s announcement undoubtedly contains an element of controversy, the selected athletes have come out in full praise, saying that it gives them ample time to prepare properly for the event. However, in relation to the mens marathon it is far too early to make such a bold statement.
In the highly possible event that the world record was to be broken once or even twice in the coming months, it may force Athletics Kenya to reconsider their stance. Whatever their final decision there will surely be complaint. Standing by their announcement would potentially deny a man who has run quicker than the current world record the chance of becoming an Olympian. Backtracking and picking the fastest people would look highly unprofessional and completely mess up the racing and training plans of Abel Kirui, a proven championship performer with a fast time of his own. Their actions show a total disregard for the individual athlete. In effect it may well not matter who they pick as they posess such strength in depth. However, in effect all they are doing is forcing someone to run a world record time.
Sir Alex Ferguson thinks Danny Welbeck’s from gives him a selection headache. Javier Hernandez just needs to work hard in training and bide his time, the World Marathon champion from Daegu may have to contemplate running another marathon and potentially break the world record in the process to solidify his place.