Athletics Kenya's Provisional Camp Vs. the Rest, by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder


John Mwangangi, Lisbon 2012, photo by 

The story this week from Justin Lagat concerns the training camp established to determine the Kenyan World Cross Country team for the World Cross Country Championships, to be held in Poland March 23, 2013...


Athletics Kenya decided to abolish the national cross country training camp that was to take in 30 athletes ahead of the national trials scheduled for the 16th of this month. Although the selected athletes had been drawn from their best performances on the already concluded Athletics Kenya cross country series, some names were still missing in it, like Isaac Korir who won in some of last year's races. 

Thumbnail image for Defar-CheruiyotFH-Doha12.jpg
Defar vs Cheruiyot, Doha 2012 DL, 
photo by 

The exclusion of Vivian Cheruiyot, the world cross country champion, from the list also did not seem to augur well for the anticipated strong team to the World Cross Country Championships. Vivian has finally come out saying that she is not planning to defend her title in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

To me, the setting up of this pre-trial camp would have served to show whether the selection of long distance athletes in this criteria, rather than that of using the national trials, would have been more effective. The 30 athletes would have competed against the rest of the athletes at the national trials and I was very curious to see whether more of the athletes making the Kenyan team would have come from the preselected 30, or from the rest who are going to make it to the nationals through the normal channel of qualifying through regional championships.

Athletics Kenya alleged that the reason for abolishing the camp was due to the selected athletes preferring to continue training in their usual training places. So, I wonder whether, after the national trials, those who will make the national team will as well be left alone to choose whether to join a national training camp, or to choose their preferred places to train.

Already there are some remonstrations from some athletes and some Kenyan journalists about the planned project of taking the 5000m and 10000m athletes to conduct the national trials out of the country sometime this year, following the "success of the Oregon project at the Olympics" as alleged by the AK chairman. While we will never be in a position to tell whether the Olympic results would have been better or worse had the trials been conducted in the country, the enrollment of the 30 athletes ahead of the national cross country trials would have either risen the confidence of Kenyans on the much similar to "Oregon Projects", or make them question the motives behind these recent changes in the norms of athletics in the country, following the results that will come out of the national trials scheduled for the 16th.

The performance of the athletes that would have been enrolled to the national training camp against those who would have just come directly from their usual training places would have also served to show how effective the national camps are and whether there may be a need to leave the athletes who make the team to represent the country to continue their training in their usual places, with their usual coaches.

Geoffrey Mutai, Eldoret, Kenya, 2011, 
photo by

So far, other strong athletes, who were not in the provisional team, have already qualified to participate in the national trials, including Timothy Kiptoo, Geofrey Mutai, Bidan Karoki, Wilson Kiprop, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Clement Langat and Leonard Oloitiptip.

Wilson Kiprop, 2012 Kenyan Olympic Trials 10,000 meters, 
photo by

Just to whet your appetite and get you as eager as I am to witness the trials, I will give you the list of those who are in the provisional team so that you keep comparing them with the ones I have listed above, and wonder, as I am also wondering, whether the list, made by Athletics Kenya, contained the best ones to represent Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships.

I'll focus only on the senior men's category since the other categories will be a replication of the same case.

1. Hosea Mwok - West pokot
2. Geofrey Kirui - Global Sports
3. John Mwangangi - Prisons
4. Peter Matelong - KDF
5. Richard Sigei - Kipkelion
6. Linus Chumba - KDF
7. Jairus Kipchoge - Kaptagat
8. Erick Langat - Sigowet
9. Clement Kemboi - Pace
10. Julius Kogo - Kapsabet
11. Richard Ndegwa Muriithi - KDF
12. Joseph Ebuya - KDF
13. Abraham Yano - Eldoret
It is now less than two weeks to the national trials. I wish much success to those in the provisional list, and also to those who have made it to the trials by qualifying through other championships. May the trials serve to point out to AK that Kenya is teeming with so much talent that whenever a few are selected to participate in trials out of the country, so many would miss their chance to prove their worth to represent the country as well.

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