Silas Kiplagat, photo by PhotoRun.net
In this column by Justin Lagat, he comments on the missing stars from the Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow next month.
On Saturday, during Kenya’s trials to select a team to represent the country at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the absence of some of the top athletes in the final list was noticeable. Some failed to turn up for the trials, others were disqualified from running in the finals while others ran but failed to impress the officials.
Besides track events, those named in the marathon team were also not the ones currently leading on the WMM leader board. Although this may be understandable in that the athletes could have preferred to go for their favorite races to harvesting more points, it is still worth looking at it. The men’s team has John Kelai, Eric Ndiema and Stephan Chelai while the women’s has Phyllis Ongori, Philomena Cheyech and Agnes Jeruto.
Wilson Kipsang, who holds the world record in marathon and is second on the WMM leader board, is not in the team. Other Kenyan men in the top ten positions in the world major marathon series’ leader board and were not named in the team include Dennis Kimetto with 50 points, Emmanuel Mutai with 30, Dickson Chumba with 25 and Geoffrey Mutai also with 25.
There are even more Kenyan women in the top ten on the WMM leader board and not in the squad to Glasgow, safe for Florence Kiplagat who has 40 points and was named in the 10,000m team. They include Rita Jeptoo with 75 points, Ednah Kiplagat with 65, Priscah Jeptoo with 50, Sharon Cherop with 25 and Jemima Sumgong with 20.
The absence of Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop in the 1500m team means that Glasgow will present a better chance for a new star to rise in this event. Silas Kiplagat is the defending champion, but after failing to show up during the national trials was not included in the team.
Kiplagat is leading in the Diamond League with 6 points followed closely by Asbel Kiprop with 5 points. It is most likely that he is more interested in maintaining his lead on the Diamond league series. Kiprop on the other hand is intent on slashing a second and 72 microseconds off his personal best time to break Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26.00 in the 1500m event. He has hinted that he could do this at the IAAF Herculis Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
The women’s 1500m team does not have Nancy Jebet Langat who won two gold medals, 1500m and 800m, during the 2010 edition of the games in Dehli, India. Another defending champion who will not be in the team is Richard Mateelong who won gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase event.
Thomas Longosiwa and Edwin Soi were pulled out of the start line by officials during the national trials and this gave way to the emergence of new stars being selected to represent the country in the 5000m. They are Joseph Kitur and Caleb Mwangangi. Soi and Longosiwa have always featured in the Kenyan 5000m national team to major international events, but this changed over the weekend after the two failed to participate in the semi-finals of the event which led to their disqualification. Isaiah Kiplagat is the only bigwig here who made it into the team.
Athletes who did not win positions into the team during the trials but got selected through the wild card include Ezekiel Kemboi in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, David Rudisha in the men’s 800m and Milcah Chemos in the women 3000m steeplechase.
Kenya won 12 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and got ranked in position 6 behind Australia, India, England, Canada and South Africa. It now remains to be seen whether Kenya will attain the same feat in again in Glasgow.