Justin Lagat did this piece on the challenges that emerging athletes face in Kenya.
NOC-K (National Olympic Committee of Kenya) has recently been visiting some camps around Eldoret to meet with the prospective middle and long distance runners who will make the national team to the Tokyo Olympic Games, and their coaches to strategize on their preparations.
Not much was disclosed about the nature of these visits, but in one of the pictures posted by Athletics Kenya on their Twitter handle, there is a check work 2.4 million Kenyan shillings being held by Paul Tergat (Kenya’s NOC-K president), Kibiwott Kandie (one of the probable Olympic athletes), and Milcah Chemos (AK athlete representative) is seen extending her hand to touch the check as well.
While this is a great initiative, it clearly points out the plight of athletes who are not in these camps, those who haven’t already made a name for themselves in past events in order to join a camp. Those athletes will have to work harder on their own to make it to the national team. It explains why it will be harder for the little-known upcoming runners to join the Kenyan Olympic team. They do not even see the possibility of participating in the national trials in the event that it will be invitational.
What if the Olympic trials will be open to all athletes and some of the “probable” athletes do not make the team?
Given the level of athletic competition in Kenya and the huge upsets and surprises we often see in the national championships here, it would only be proper that the national trials would have been done much earlier so that the visits being currently conducted could be targeting the real athletes preparing for the Olympic Games and not the probable ones.
Not just that but also for it to seem fair to runners of all levels who have the ambition to make the Olympic Team as well.
If the national trials were done much early for all athletes with or without the Olympic qualifying standards, those who finish in the top three positions to earn automatic qualification will then work on getting the qualification times at lower altitudes. If only the entire national athletics team would have been named alongside the Marathon Teams so that they would all be receiving the whole support in their preparations, it would be an easier challenge to take a team of runners who need to run a qualifying time in a single trip to a faster track at a lower altitude and have them all run there.
After all, it will be extremely impossible for any runner who wins the Kenyan national trials not to run an Olympic time at low altitude.