My last blogpost – Ibrahim Hussein Clarifies Kenyan Olympic Marathon Selection – left some readers wondering whether the same process would be applied to the World Championship winning track runners like David Rudisha (800 meters), Asbel Kiprop (1500m), Ezekiel Kemboi (3000m steeplechase), and Vivian Cheruiyot ( 5 & 10,000m)? Does what the Nation newspaper reported as “pre-selection” mean that these athletes were actually on the 2012 Olympic team already?
Here, again, is Hussein with a further explanation of how what promises to be a most impressive Kenyan Olympic team will be configured for London 2012.
“Our selection is a process,” wrote Hussein to my inquiry. “At the moment we are considering those who will qualify for a “wild card”. The top two athletes during our trials will automatically make the team. If any of those “wild card” athletes are not among the top three during the trials, and the selectors believe they will improve by the time of the games, then they are selected to take the third spot.”
As with former American and current Jamaican sprint squads, the Kenyan Olympic distance running teams are often more difficult to make than the Olympic podium itself. While the American system of a pure Trials is inherently the most fair – top three, you’re in, fourth goes home – the Kenyan system, combining a Trials with a single selection, keeps the door open for a superior athlete who fails to perform or is injured on that single Trials day. It also opens the door to politics, but that’s a column for another day.
With the talent that is sure to be left home next summer, how about if someone staged a secondary Olympics for all the athletes who barely failed to qualify for the Big Dance? Not a bad track meet to attend, either.