Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Olympic Qualifiers: Controversy creeps

Finally our athletics team to the Beijing Olympic Games was selected having come from a busy previous weekend of national athletics championships hosted by KCC at the Nyayo National Stadium. Most events had familiar faces winning thus booking their places. With the exception of the marathon, most of the other competitors had to roughen and toughen up on the tracks on Saturday.
Roughen it was with some cases of spiking by fellow competitors as well as the usual shoving and pushing. The spiking was evident especially in the longer races with the 3000m steeplechase having more controversy than competition. 4th placed Brimin Kipruto asked AK officials to investigate the eventual winner on these under-hand techniques of winning the race. So bad was the incident that video footage showed Brimin openly admonishing Ezekiel Kemboi who was a close 2nd for the better part of the race for distracting and spiking him.
The other controversy was regarding the inclusion of Veronica Nyaruai who finished 5th in place of Mercy Wanjiku and Regina Jerotich who finished 3rd and 4th respectively. I mean even if she had finished last it seems the so-called 'experience' would have saved her legs . Please !
Methinks each of these is a genuine case and the athlete(s) should be given a hearing and the outcomes released at least 48 hours after the qualifiers to be able to act decisively on such cases in future. This will also give time for study of footage and any other evidence availed. It’s sad that the level of competition seems to be eating into our athletes’ heads with some going to any lengths to win a race including age-cheating (especially for the juniors), illegal tactics such as spiking, and even changing citizenship!
AK should also be careful in future not to have 2 athletics meets occurring within a week. This may lead to burn out which afflicts our athletes as well as injuries as seen last weekend. Sad too that not much emphasis had been laid on short races and field events which we can diversify into and work for wider medal prospects.
By the way, what is happening to other disciplines? I haven’t heard much buzz about these. Any progress?

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