Nairobi, KenyaThe 2009 World Championships bronze medallist Moses Masai bounced back to form at the Athletics Kenya men’s 10,000m Olympics Pre-Trial in Nairobi on Tuesday (17).
But strangely for a meeting held for the central purpose of 10,000m running it was All Africa Games Javelin Throw titleholder Julius Yego who stole the headlines.
Masai in a slow 28:10.30 won the race to decide who’ll be in the line-up for the Kenyan 10,000m Olympic trials race which is being held at the Prefontaine Classic - Samsung Diamond League meeting (10,000m on Fri 1 June; main meeting Sat 2 June), and will now be one of the 13 runners contesting the three available Kenyan berths for London.
Yet it was Yego’s national record of 79.95m inside the Olympic B-Standard (79.50) for the Games which was the performance of the day.
“It makes me feel so happy that I’m now among the record holders in Kenya and the first to qualify with the B-Standard for the Olympics in this country,” said Yego.
Yego, whose previous national mark of 78.34m was set when winning the All Africa Games in Maputo last year, had just returned from a two months’ training stint at the IAAF Accredited Training Centre in Kuortane, Finland, the country which is the homeland of javelin throwing.
“It is one of the best places to train for the Javelin Throw; it’s like Kenya in running. It made me improve a lot since I improved my technique in an event where it all about how you throw, not the strength.”
“I’m going back there next month for further training where I hope to qualify with the A-Standard. I want to be in the Olympics to be the first Kenyan to represent the country in Javelin,” he added.
Athletics Kenya (AK) Secretary General, David Okeyo, said they were expecting Yego to break the A-qualification of 82.00m but if that is not possible, they would still consider sending him to London.
“It’s all up to him but an Olympics place is open for Yego who has demonstrated the benefits of sending him to Finland,” Okeyo stated.
Back on the track…
The starting gun for the main event of the day, after the excitement of the Javelin record had died down, saw the field of 17 out of the originally invited 30 runners for the 10,000m motor around the Nyayo National Stadium track in pedestrian fashion with the first three laps covered at an average sluggish pace of 69 seconds.
World Half Marathon titleholder, Wilson Kiprop did most of the initial front running as national coaches, Julius Kirwa and Peter Mathu waved frantically on the sidelines for the pace to be picked up.
Masai, who missed the bronze at Beijing to Micah Kogo in a dead heat finish heeded the call and took over at the sixth bringing the lap pace down to 64 seconds with Kiprop, the 5000m Olympics silver winner Eliud Kipchoge, African 5000m bronze medallist Mark Kiptoo, and Edinburgh junior World Cross bronze winner Lucas Rotich in quick chase.
The speed proved to be too much for Josphat Kiprono Menjo the Osaka World Champs eighth finisher, and Philemon Yator the Africa 5000m silver winner, who dropped out in successive laps.
Kipchoge, the two-time Olympian, then took his turn to stretch the field with three laps left through the bell where Rotich then took charge with 350 to go before Masai bore down the homestretch to head Kipchoge (28:11.0) and Rotich (28:12.0) on to the podium.
“The race was good for me today because my injury is now gone so I have seen that I’m in good shape so my chances for the Olympics are good. In Beijing, I missed the bronze medal and if I get the chance, this time I want to get something for myself and it feels good to be back,” Masai, the former double African 5000m and 10,000m junior gold winner expressed.
“I have been running 5000m in the last two Olympics and for the third I want to run the 10,000m, said Kipchoge the 2003 World 5000m champion. “ I hope to be among the three Kenyans and since I have my best of 26:49 in the distance, I see no harm even if this was my first 10K in Kenya,” the Athens bronze and Beijing silver medallist added.
Kiptoo (28:17.4) former World junior champ and Josphat Bett (28:27.6) closed the top five.
All finishers bar sixth placed Kogo (28:31.0) and Daniel Siele in 11th were named in the squad for the Prefontaine Trial with the pair seeing their Olympics dream in the event end since they had not broken the A-Standard of 27:45.00.
The overcast conditions with high humidity proved to be a daunting task for Japan based runners including World Cross senior silver winner, Paul Tanui (28:34.2) and All Africa Games 10000m bridesmaid Bedan Karoki (28:39.8) who came home in the seventh and ninth places, as Wilson Kiprop (28:46.2) slumped to tenth.
According to Athletics Kenya, the selected team will enjoy a three-day break before gathering at the High Altitude Training Centre in Eldoret to continue their preparations for the Prefontaine Classic.
The 10,000m squad is Moses Masai, Eliud Kipchoge, Lucas Rotich, Mark Kiptoo, Josphat Bett, Paul Tanui, Emmanuel Bett, Bedan Karoki, Wilson Kiprop, Titus Mbishei, Mark Kigen, Geoffrey Kirui, Dennis Masai.
In other keynote action, Commonwealth Games 400m gold medallist, Mark Mutai (46.0) edged out World Youth silver medallist Alphas Kishoyian (46.2) in the one lap event with Boniface Mucheru finishing third (46.5).
A 4x400m relay squad was also selected for the Penn Relays in the United States after the event: Mark Mutai, Alphas Kishoyian, Anderson Mureta, Boniface Mucheru, Vincent Mumo.
Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF
1. Moses Masai 28:10.3
2. Eliud Kipchoge 28:11.0
3. Lucas Rotich 28:12.0
4. Mark Kiptoo 28:17.4
5. Josphat Bett 28:27.6
6. Micha Kogo 28:31.0
7. Paul Tanui 28:34.2
8. Emmanuel Bett 28:35.6
9. Bedan Karoki 28:39.8
10. Wilson Kiprop 28:46.2
1. Julius Yego 79.95 (NR)
2. Sammy Keskeny 71.26
(Other competitors did not register legal throws)
1. Mark Mutai 46.0
2. Alphas Kishoyian 46.2
3. Boniface Mucheru 46.5
4. Julius Koskei 46.7