No foreign athletes at Kenya trials for Worlds

Nairobi, July 29 (IANS) Kenya has blocked foreign athletes based in the country from competing in their national trials here on Friday and Saturday.

David Okeyo, Athletics Kenya (AK) vice-president in-charge of competitions, said they have requests from Qatar, Bahrain, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Botswana, New Zealand but will not allow them to compete against the Kenyans, reports Xinhua.

“This is a Kenyan affair as we select the team for the Beijing World Championships. We will lock out all foreigners. I believe it is fair that we meet them in Beijing and not here where they might just learn one or two things on how to counter our athletes,” Okeyo said here on Tuesday.

“We want to focus on what we have and see that we give all Kenyans an equal chance to win a ticket to the World Championships. In some events we will have to do preliminaries before we go to the finals because we have so many athletes especially in 800m and 1,500m races.”

Kenya will keep up with its tradition of selecting the first two athletes across the finish line with the third being picked through a wild card. Okeyo confirmed that the third athlete will be selected through the coaches’ wild card after analysing several aspects.

“We will maintain the same strategy and will pick just two athletes finishing top at the trials. The third athlete will have to wait and be vetted by the coaches to see how they have performed throughout the entire season and what strength he possesses that can really boost the team,” said Okeyo.

However, Okeyo warned that Kenya may be forced to select a lean squad because the number of qualified athletes in the specialty has reduced.

“Look at an event like the women’s 800m; we only have two people with the required time and we might not be able to select a third. Only World Champion Eunice Sum and Janeth Jepkosgei have run faster than the 2:01.00 set by the IAAF,” Okeyo said.

“But we have invited more athletes to turn up and compete at the trials and in the event someone qualifies, then we will select them.”

There are about 2,567 athlete entries (1,423 men and 1,144 women) that have been received from 203 federations for the championships in Beijing this August.

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