Disquiet over Manangoi wild card

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 00:00 |
Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo/FILE

Athletics Kenya (AK) has elicited controversy following its decision to hand World 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi a wild card to the World Championships while forcing his stable-mate Timothy Cheruiyot to seek his ticket via the trials despite having qualified through the Diamond League. 

Traditionally, world champions get the opportunity to defend their titles, hence the decision to settle on Manangoi.

While that might be right, it is the decision to force Cheruiyot to seek qualification via the grueling World Championships Trials, set to take place tomorrow and Friday, that has drawn the wrath of the athlete and his stable Rongai Athletics Club. 

Ahead of this year’s IAAF Diamond League, season’s winners of the Diamond Trophy were assured a direct ticket to the September 27 to October 6 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and after emerging victorious in 1,500m, Cheruiyot thought he had secured qualification only for AK to pull the latest move.

“AK has made a decision that only one athlete in the event will get a wild card and that is Elijah because he is the defending champion,” AK senior vice president Paul Mutwii told People Sport yesterday. 

“It is unfortunate for Timothy, but that is the stand given that the first three athletes will qualify for the Championships. He will have to qualify like everyone else,” added Mutwii.

However, coach Benard Ouma, who handles both Cheruiyot and Manangoi, has reservations. 

“That is strictly beyond us. My only concern is what if, God forbid, Timothy falls and finishes fourth for example or gets unwell and fails to run completely during the trials?” he posed.

He added: “What then happens since according to IAAF, he has already qualified for Doha? Questions will arise for sure. Timothy has been the best athlete this season.”

With Manangoi not breaking sweat, Cheruiyot will be forced to contend with competition from stable-mate and Africa Games gold medallist George Manangoi (Kenya Prisons), 2016 World U-20 and 2015 World U-18 champion Kumari Taki (Kenya Police), 2019 African Games bronze medalist Charles Cheboi (Kenya Defence Forces) and fast-rising Vincent Kibet. Surprises may also come from Justus Soget, Brimin Kiprono, Evans Kipchemba, Nickson Chepseba and Calistas Ndiwa.

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