Dafanews Ghana

Dafanews Ghana

Cheruiyot omission from Kenya’s Tokyo-bound team sparks controversy

Athletics   |   June 21, 2021


Athletics Kenya’ decision to leave Timothy Cheruiyot out of the Kenyan contingent to the Tokyo Olympics next month has become a subject of controversy among the athletics fraternity, with many questioning why the best 1,500 metres runner in the past three years was omitted.

Cheruiyot finished 4th during the trials held over the weekend in Nairobi but many had expected AK to allocate the discretionary slot to him but instead the governing body listed Abel Kipsang, who had come third.

Charles Simotwo had won the trials ahead of Kamor Etyang who came second.

Cheruiyot, the reigning world champion also missed the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro after finishing 4th during the trials but he bounced back to win the world championships the following year in impressive style and repeated the feat two years later. He has won 20 of the 22 races he has been involved in for the past three years and has not finished outside the top-three since May 2017 when he turned home 5th in the Diamond League in Doha.

The controversy emanates from the fact that of the three selected, none has the pedigree and credentials he possesses and therefore critics feel AK has taken a gamble by repeating the same mistake they made five years ago when they left him out and Kenya failed to win gold at the Games.

Pundits have been talking of Cheruiyot as the favourite to win gold but his omission now means, if nothing changes to get him into the team, Kenya’s best chances lie in Kipsang who has won the last three Diamond League races and is a previous world championship gold and silver medal winner.

Some quarters suggest Cheruiyot could still make the team on a doping chance technicality. Kenya is categorized as a A federation and is therefore required that all her athletes at a world or Olympics event must have had at least three out-of-competition tests.

There is talk that the fact that Etyang came to the trials without an Olympic standard time and is not regularly competing at the biggest stage means he may fall short of the doping testing standard for Kenyan athletes and therefore could end up being dropped to make way for Cheruiyot, who limped off the track after the race but later confirmed he was fine and fit.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out but whichever way, certain quarters suggest that AK may have been well aware of the possibility of Etyang being dropped but played safe by not omitting the winner of their trials.

Only time will tell, with the clock fast ticking to the Games which begin on 23rd July.