Eyes on Cheruiyot as Manangoi pulls out of Doha Worlds
There will be a new 1,500m winner at the September 27 to October 6 World Championship in Doha, Qatar after defending champion Elijah Manangoi pulled out on Monday, citing an injury.
Manangoi, who took to social media to confirmed the development, says he will take time off to recuperate as he aims to be fit for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
"Sad that I am not able to defend my 1,500m title in Doha due to an ankle injury I picked in training.
I had no choice, we have to safeguard the career for the sake of Olympics Year (sic). It's not my fault," read part of Manangoi's post on his Facebook page on Monday.
"All the best to my team-mates, world silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and my younger brother World junior champion George Manangoi and Ronald Kwemoi. Bring it back home guys.
And all competitors and event organisers, make Doha a fun-filled and successful event," added the Commonwealth Games champion, who also skipped last month's African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
Manangoi's withdrawal comes at a time his form was being questioned ahead of the biennial global event while Cheruiyot, who has played second fiddle to him both at the Worlds and Commonwealth, is in sizzling form.
Cheruiyot is now favourtie to claim gold for Kenya in Doha given he has had an exemplary season that culminating in retaining his Diamond League Trophy, his third in a row, in Brussels, Belgium.
Coach Ben Ouma of Rongai Athletics Club, who manages the Manangoi siblings and Cheruiyot, says the world champion had no choice.
"It's true Elijah is out of Doha. We have weighed the matter at length. He is a world champion, but doesn't have an Olympics medal. It will be ok for him to concentrate on his recovery.
It's sad for the athlete but he remains positive about his recovery," said Ouma who is confident the trio of Cheruiyot, George Manangoi and Kwemoi will do well.
"We still have a solid team of three athletes. If time allows, AK will ad another one. But I am confident we will defend our title. Timothy has been been the best athlete in the event," added Ouma, who is one of the Team Kenya coaches for Doha.
Charles Simwoto, who was fourth at the national trials last week, could be the beneficiary of Manangoi's withdrawal if AK decides to field their full quarter of four athletes in Doha.