In the whirl of travel and press duties for last weekend’s Chicago Marathon, the following notice slipped into my mail bag with little notice.  In the wake of Kenya’s disappointing performances at the London Olympic Marathons, Athletics Kenya (AK) has announced a new policy for Rio 2016 which it hopes will give the nation its best chance to secure what has been an elusive goal, the men’s and women’s Olympic Marathon gold medal.

After a contentious and controversial selection process in 2012,  the highly touted Kenyan men’s Olympic Marathon team took home the Olympic silver and bronze medals in London via Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang, but lost in defense of Sammy Wanjiru‘s 2008 gold to Uganda’s surprising Stephen Kiprotich.  In the women’s marathon, Priscah Jeptoo won the silver medal, while pre-race favorites Mary Keitany and reigning World Champion Edna Kiplagat could only manage fourth and 20th places.

In the aftermath of those letdowns, AK has announced that in order to represent the crossed spears over shield flag in Rio de Janeiro 2016, all provisionally selected marathoners will not be allowed to compete in another marathon six months in advance of the Games. This new policy would eliminate the 2016 spring calendar of marathons including Boston, Rotterdam and London, all which played a major role in the 2012 selection process.

AK vice-president Peter Mutwii made the announcement last Wednesday October 3rd.

“It is the(se) athletes who proposed that we make our selections in December ahead of the Olympics,” said Mutwii as reported by Muigai Kiguru of The Star newspaper.

The 2012 London Olympic cycle was rife with controversy surrounding the marathon team selection, and AK was much criticized for its changing policies and contradictory announcements.  The team was eventually selected following the April 2011 Virgin London Marathon.

Mutwii said that the AK decision was made to insure the selected athletes’ full readiness for the Olympic competition.



  1. I would have thought these big city marathons are where these athletes get their big pay days. If selected and forbidden from competeing I wonder if they will be compensated?

  2. Great data dump, Brendan. As so often in our sport, the numbers do, indeed, tell the story.

    Here’s a look at the Men’s rundown:

    Carlos Lopes, Portugal
    April 1983 Rotterdam Marathon: 2nd, 2:08:39
    August 1884: Olympic Gold Medal Los Angeles

    Gelindo Bordin, Italy
    September 1987 IAAF World Championships Rome: 3rd, 2:12:40
    October 1988: Olympic Gold Medal Seoul

    Hwang Young-Cho, South Korea
    July 1991: 1st, Summer Universiade Marathon Sheffied, England, 2:12:40
    August 1992: Olympic Gold Medal Barcelona

    Josia Thungwange, South Africa
    December 1995: 1st, Honolulu Marathon, 2:16:08
    August 1996; Olympic Gold Medal Atlanta

    Gezahegne Abera, Ethiopia
    April 2000: 2nd, Boston Marathon, 2:09:47
    October 2000: Olympic Gold Medal Sydney

    Stefano Baldini, Italy
    April 2004: 4th, London Marathon, 2:08:37
    August 2004: Olympic Gold Medal Athens

    Sammy Wanjiru, Kenya
    April 2008: 2nd, London Marathon, 2:05:24
    August 2008: Olympic Gold Medal Beijing

    Stephen Kiprotich, Uganda
    Feb. 2012: 3rd, Tokyo Marathon, 2:07:50
    August 2012: Olympic Gold Medal London

    The last four men’s Olympic champions have raced within six months of their gold medal performances.

  3. Great point Brendan. In my opinion, I think the selection process will/should be changed again before Rio. It just makes no sense to me!

  4. Toni,

    I think we can let the history of women’s Olympic marathoning speak for itself in response to the misplaced logic put into this decision by AK. With the exception of Mizuki in 2004, who gained automatic selection to Japan’s team by being the top medalist at the previous summer’s world championships marathon in Paris, all 7 other women’s gold medalists ran a Spring marathon leading into their Olympic victory. Naoko Takahashi cleared the AK six-month margin by just a week or so, mainly because of the later-than-usual timing of the Sydney Olympics.

    Stats below:
    Joan Benoit Samuelson :
    May 1984 US Olympic Marathon Trials: 1st in 2:31:04
    August 1984: Olympic gold medal

    Rosa Mota
    April 1988 Boston Marathon: 1st in 2:24:30
    September 1988: Olympic gold medal

    Valentina Yegerova
    March 1992 Los Angeles Marathon: 4th in 2:29:41
    August 1992: Olympic gold medal

    Fatuma Roba
    March 1996 Rome Marathon: 1st in 2:29:05
    July 1996: Olympic Gold Medal

    Naoko Takahashi
    March 2000 Nagoya Marathon: 1st in 2:22:19
    September 2000: Olympic Gold Medal

    Mizuki Noguchi
    August 2003 Paris World Championships: 2nd in 2:24:14
    August 2004: Olympic Gold Medal

    Constantina Dita
    April 2008 London Marathon: 8th in 2:27:45
    August 2008: Olympic Gold Medal

    Tiki Gelana
    April 2012 Rotterdam Marathon: 1st in 2:18:58
    August 2012: Olympic Gold Medal


    Brendan Reilly

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