Kenyan Plans For Olympic Trials In U.S Criticised

By Community | March 1, 2012

Kenya’s plan to hold the London 2012 Olympics trials for a select part of the East African country’s team in the United States have come under criticism by former athletes, who argue that there is no need to depart from the tradition of holding national trials for every single distance.

Athletics Kenya Chairman Isaiah Kiplagat confirmed last week that five male and female athletes would partake in the Diamond League 5,000 and 10,000 meters races in Eugene, Oregon with the top three earning a spot on the Olympic team, whilst the remainder of the team will be selected at trials in Nairobi.

Kiplagat said: “We want to select a strong team for the Olympics because we have not won a (gold) medal in these two events (since 1988). We have therefore decided to take as many as 20 athletes to Oregon, where we shall pick the best runners.”

Paul Tergat, five-time world cross country champion and former marathon world record holder, countered such notions by suggesting that all trials should take place in Kenya. The two-time Olympic silver medallist said: “Kenya is a sovereign state and it makes little sense to conduct part of an Olympic trials outside the country.

“We have always done our trials and selected winning teams here. I don’t understand why we have to take our trials to America.”

His sentiments were reiterated by another leading former athlete, Martin Keino, implying that by not having trials in its homeland, it only serves to take away from the local community. Keino added: “It is unique in the sense that it is the convergence of as many as 20 of the world’s top distance athletes fighting for just three spots through a rigorous system of selection.

“The men’s 5,000m and 10,000m races are generally some of the most exciting races at an Olympic trials here in Kenya. Not to hold these events in such important trials is to deny thousands of fans their only opportunity to watch their stars in person before the Games.”