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.