Contrasting prospects for Kenya’s 800m team
Kenya’s male and female cast of two-lap runners readying for the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, later in the month have contrasting fortunes.
The men’s pool of 800m runners hold so much promise with medal prospects teeming in Athletics Kenya’s invited squad for this week’s trials while the female legion is deficient of podium prospects unlike years gone past.
Michael Saruni, Emmanuel Korir, Wycliffe Kinyamal and Ferguson Rotich have stood out over the distance in the last two years.
Of the quartet, only Saruni failed to make the IAAF Diamond League finals in Zurich. The three finished fourth, seventh and eighth with Korir clocking his season’s best of 1:43.69 while Rotich and Kinyamal dismally managed 1:45 and 1:47.
US-based Korir threatened to smash David Rudisha’ record last year but has worryingly stalled in his progress that the Diamond League ended without a single victory for the 24-year-old.
His strong finish to the premiere global track season could, however, prop him ahead of the tiring opponents during the World Championships.
In Rotich, Kenya has an experienced athlete with valuable championship knowledge while Saruni has blown hot and cold since controversially missing the Rio Olympics. Other contestants for limited slots include Alfred Kipketer, Jonathan Kitilit and Cornelius Tuwei.
In the female field, Kenya’s strongest prospect Nelly Jepkosgey attained dual nationality with Bahrain, leaving fading former world champions Eunice Sum and Janeth Jepkosgei to duel with up and coming athletes.
It is still unclear if she is eligible to represent Kenya but has been drafted in the start list by AK.
Notable names in the field include industrious Eglay Nalianya, Jacline Wambui, Emily Tuwei and Sylvia Chesebe.
Jepkosgey was the sole name in Diamond League finals in Brussels, Belgium. With American Ajee Wilson rated tops and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule enjoying good form, Kenya’s medal prospects look bleak.