The Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya reported yesterday that Athletics Kenya (AK) had pre-selected all the 2011 Kenyan World Championship gold medalists from Daegu, South Korea for the 2012 London Olympic team, New AK Olympic system stirs debate. The selection included World Championship Marathon winners Abel Kirui and Edna Kiplagat. Considering the prestige of the World Championships, and how much stock federations put into athletes representing the country over their own interests, this can hardly be considered controversial. Plus, anyone can understand the difficulty of choosing a three-person squad from such a deep pool of candidates, SELECTING KENYAN OLYMPIC MARATHON TEAM.
However, according to the Nation, Athletics Kenya didn’t stop with their world champions. AK chairman Isaiah Kipagat also was quoted as acknowledging Olympic “wild-card” pre-selection for last weekend’s BMW Berlin Marathon men’s champion, and new world record setter, Patrick Makau.
“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,” Kiplagat was quoted by the Nation.
As the Daily Nation headline suggested, however, the story generated a strong reaction, inferring, as it did, that only one Olympic spot remained open for the remainder of Kenya’s great male marathon runners – many of whom had turned down selection to the Daegu World Championships team, ostensibly to participate in the more lucrative big-city marathons in Berlin, Frankfurt, Chicago and New York City later this fall. This list included world 30K track record holder and Boston Marathon runner up Moses Mosop who will run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon October 9th, as well as London and Boston Marathon champions and course record holders Emmanuel and Geoffrey (no relation) Mutai who will compete at the ING New York City Marathon November 6th. It would also impact Wilson Kipsang, who will be defending his 2010 2:04:57 Frankfurt Marathon win on October 30th. What if he, or Mosop in Chicago, breaks Patrick Makau’s still wet world record of 2:03:38? Considering the roll Kenyan marathoners have been on this year, that possibility cannot be dismissed out of hand. Well, what if that did happen? Would one or the other be selected for London 2012, thereby filling the Olympic Marathon team completely?
In order to come to a better understanding of the situation, I put these questions via Facebook to my old friend, and former New York City, Boston, and Honolulu Marathon champion Ibrahim Hussein, the Athletics Kenya assistant general secretary. Our exchange follows.
Ibrahim, How does AK justify naming Patrick Makau to the 2012 Olympic team before Mosop runs in Chicago, Wilson Kipsang defends in Frankfurt, and the two Mutais battle in NYC? You used Boston as a Trials in `92.
o Hello Toni, We have not named the team yet but we are in the process of trying to identify those who might make the list for consideration by the selection panel. It is a little early for us to have a final list. We shall be monitoring all our top marathoners up to mid-April 2012 before we make a final decision.
o But what about the story in Daily Nation yesterday quoting Mr. Isaiah Kiplagat saying AK has pre-selected both Abel Kirui and Patrick Makau for London 2012? That would only leave one position open for the men. Was he misrepresented? Or was the pre-selection just for the “consideration list” not the actual team? Thanks.
o It is for the consideration list. Newspapers can write what they want, look at standard newspaper from Kenya. I am the secretary of the selection panel.
Hopefully, Mr. Hussein’s response more clearly delineates the Kenyan selection process, and motivates the Kenyan men and women marathoners who will display their talents in the weeks to come.