Medal Prospects for Kenyans in Sopot Look Grim, by Justin Lagat
During the 2012 IAAF world indoor championships in Istanbul, Kenya won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. This year though, after just watching the heats, it looks as though achieving the same feat may be the best that can be expected from the Kenyan athletes in Sopot. Not unless another of the athletes comes up with the same surprise win that Eunice Sum demonstrated last year in Moscow in winning the unexpected 800m gold medal for Kenya.
Majority of Kenyan fans had their hopes for a gold medal resting on the shoulders of Silas Kiplagat, but their hopes were quickly crushed during the 1500m heats when Silas failed to advance to the finals. Countryman, Bethwel Birgen managed to sail through, but with a small "q", which only means it may not be an easy task for him to make it to the podium in the finals.
Hellen Obiri is one athlete who qualified with a strong capital "Q", and now remains to be one of the athletes who still hold some hopes for a gold medal for Kenya, but it will not be an easy task for her given the lineup she will be up against.
Another strong qualification to the finals by a Kenyan is by Augustine Choge. He was a silver medalist in 2012 and will be seeking to improve that position to a gold medal this time round. Caleb Mwangangi also qualified by taking the fourth position in the second heat of the 3000m and will be providing crucial companionship to his countryman in the finals. But, with Bernard Lagat, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Dejen Gebremeskel, among others in the finals, it will be a tough battle and if a medal will be won by a Kenyan, only one medal is what should be expected here.
Kenya took eight athletes to the world indoor championships in Sopot this year; five men and three women. This number is less by one compared to that of the team that represented the country during the last edition in Istanbul where the country had taken a total of nine athletes to the championships; six men and three women.
Of the six men, only two were able to win medals for the country; a silver medal by Agustine Choge and a bronze by Edwin Soi, all the medals coming from the 3000m event. Of the three women, two of them won gold medals; Pamela Jelimo won gold in the women 800m event while Hellen Obiri won it in the 3000m. The other girl, Sylvia Kibet, narrowly missed a medal by finishing fourth in the 3000m.
Of the four medalists in the 2012 indoor championships, it is only Hellen Obiri and Agustine Choge who are advancing forward to defend them. Noticeably missing is Pamela Jelimo, who despite being the defending champion in the women 800m did not have a recent qualification time to be entered in the race. Edwin Soi too wasn't named in the team.
Viola Kibiwot who had been entered in the women's 1500m event failed to start, some reliable sources reveal that she had been entered in an event that wasn't her specialty.
As at now, three finals will have Kenyans in them: Women's 3000m, men's 1500m and 3000m; two women and three men still standing chances for medals. Like every other Kenyan, I look forward to witness the turn of events in the next two days.