Say what you will about the American trials system for Olympic selection, how it discounts consistency or past excellence for a one-day, all or nothing performance, but how would you like to see a Kenyan Olympic Trials Marathon?  Now that might be a marathon I’d pay to view!

Think about the Kenyan men’s team for London 2012.  You can’t keep Abel Kirui, the two-time World Champion off the squad, can you?  Not after he destroyed the field in Daegu this August.  And after Patrick Makau’s world record performance in Berlin today, giving the 2010 World #1 three wins in his last four marathons – his only loss a third in London this spring after he took a hard fall at 22k – he has to be chosen, right?

Which means either Boston champion and course record holder Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02), or London champion and course record holder Emmanuel Mutai (2:04:40) isn’t going to make the cut!  And that doesn’t even take into consideration three-time London champ and runner-up in 2011 Martin Lel, or Boston runner-up and track 30K world record holder Moses Mosop.  And forget about relative old-timers like Duncan Kibet, James Kwambai, the two Robert Cheruiyots. But what about current killers like Wilson Kipsang (2:04:57, 1st, Frankfurt 2010), Wilson Chebet (debut winner in Rotterdam 2011, 2:05:27), and Vincent Kipruto (2nd in Rotterdam, 2:05;33)?  How can they simply be dismissed?  Then think of the guys like Sammy Kitwara who have yet to try a marathon, but are brutes in the half (PR 58:58), and who you know will be monsters in the full eventually?  Talk about your embarrassment of riches!

But let’s wait till after this fall season, after Wilson Kipsang makes his defense in Frankfurt and Mosop and the Mutais show their wares, as well.  Can you imagine the kind of performance it will take in Chicago or New York to stamp a visa for London?

Florence lets it flow in Berlin

And the women’s squad is no selector’s picnic, either.  There’s 2011 world champion Edna Kiplagat. The Kenyen federation generally rewards those who run for the nation rather than rack up big city marathon wins.  Recall that in 2000 the KAA kept that year’s Boston champion Catherine Ndereba off their Sydney squad even though she’d beaten defending Olympic champion and three-time Boston winner Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia. Instead they gave the nod to Ester Wanjiru who came in third place in Osaka at 2:23:31 just because that time was better than Ndereba’s in Boston.  Ndereba heard about not making the team on the radio while waiting in line in a bank in Nairobi. Crazy.

So tell me how they can possibly keep 2011 London champion Mary Keitany off the squad now that she’s the second fastest Kenyan woman in history behind Catherine’s 2:18:47 from Chicago 2001?  And today Florence Kiplagat delivered on her promise as World Half-Marathon champion and record holder with a 2:19:44 cruise job in Berlin, besting world record holder Paula Radcliffe (third in 2:23:47) and two-time World Marathon Majors series champ Irina Mikitenko of Germany (second in 2:22:18). How’s that for a top three?

That means women like Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop, the World Championships silver and bronze medalists ,may be on the outside looking in.  And poor Catherine Ndereba, twice Olympic silver, and two-time World Champion is probably an afterthought again.

Please, Kenyan federation, forget the London Games.  Stage a Kenyan-only marathon trials and let’s see if we can get Jim Lampley and the boxing boys from HBO to call it live on pay-per-view.  Cause we’re not talking foot-racing, we are talking your heavyweight championship of the world!



  1. I think kenya federation should pick these athletes:

    women: Edna kiplagat, mary keitany and catherine ndereba, I think catherine deserves it because sha has given Kenya many glories (more than the other ones)

    men: abel kirui, geofrey mutai aund patrick makau!

  2. This from the wire services:
    Nairobi – Kenyan athletics authorities said on Monday the selection of the marathon team for next year’s London Olympics would be extremely difficult considering the number of elite runners who have qualified.

    Over 50 women and 150 men, led by the new world record holder Patrick Makau, have attained the marathon qualifying marks.

    But with only three places in each category up for grabs, the Kenyan selectors conceded they will be spoilt for choice when the final team is named next April.

    “It will be a stiff competition to pick the final squad. We will have to take into account their ranking, performance and consistency to get the best,” Athletics Kenya secretary David Okeyo told AFP.

    “We are however encouraged by the preparations of our athletes, and hopeful, Kenya will be able to win both the men’s and women’s titles in London,” Okeyo added.

    He said the country’s chances of taking both titles were high, despite the death of the Olympic men’s champion Samuel Wanjiru, who fell from the balcony of his Nyahururu home earlier this year. – Sapa-AFP

    1. Earlier than anyone could have expected, Athletics Kenya (AK) has announced that the gold medal winners at the recent Daegu World Championships have been selected to the 2012 Kenyan Olympic team. This decision led to the following story in the Kenyan newspaper The Nation.

      New AK Olympic system stirs debate


      World marathon record holder Patrick Makau and world champion Abel Kirui have promised to deliver the marathon title to Kenya at next year’s London Olympic Games.

      The pair said yesterday they plan to give 2008 Beijing Olympic Games champion, the late Samuel Wanjiru, a proper tribute by retaining the title at the London Games that will run from July 27 to August 12.

      Makau and Kirui’s wishes to represent Kenya at the Games were granted on Thursday when Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said the 26-year-old Makau, who set a new world record of 2:03:38 at last weekend’s Berlin Marathon, had been given a wild card entry into the Olympics.

      Kiplagat also said that all the gold medalists from the World Championships in Daegu will be retained for the London Olympics hence granting Kirui, who retained his world title in the South Korean city (2:07:38) his wish.

      Kiplagat acknowledged the difficulty they might face in selecting the final squad of three runners for London Olympics marathon now that Makau and Kirui have made the tentative list.

      “Makau’s feat is a reason enough to have him in the team while the fire from Daegu must at all cost be upheld towards the London Games,” said Kiplagat adding that AK will convene a meeting with the managers of the gold medalists from Daegu to map out competition and training schedules for them.

      But the decision was criticised in other quarters, with AK’s Nairobi branch chairman, Barnabas Korir, saying the association’s top brass had effectively killed off the spirit of competition.

      “We have the best athletes in the world and such early selection is denying others who are equally good a chance,” said Korir.

      “It is a wrong move and has never happened anywhere in the world. It is premature and should never be considered.”

      Steeplechaser Paul Kipsiele Koech (7:57.32) finished the season in third place on the world list behind Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto (7:53.64) and world champion Ezekiel Kemboi (7:55.76).

      He also took a swipe at the AK for the early wildcard selection: “That is denying other athletes a chance. The World Championships is a different competition from the Olympic Games. These people (AK) are killing the sport.”

      Makau welcomed his wild card, saying he will not participate in any marathon before the London Olympics:

      “I want to repay the gesture by dedicating my preparations for London by participating in selected races. I pray to God for good health.”

      An elated Kirui, 29, said he will wait for an official communication from AK so as to enable him plan well for London:

      “That is good news as it will give me ample time to train and focus well,. What else will I want in this world with an Olympic Games medal hanging around my neck?”

      The gold medallists from Daegu who benefit from the wild card are Kirui, Edna Kiplagat (marathon), David Rudisha (800m), Asbel Kiprop (1,500m), Vivian Cheruiyot (5,000m, 10,000m) and Ezekiel Kemboi (steeplechase).

      Kiplagat, the women’s marathon world champion, said: “It is unbelievable. It will give us ample time to prepare well. I now need to re-schedule and plan my races for the big battle. The Olympics is the first priority,” said Kiplagat.

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