World Marathon record holder Patrick Makau and the women's world titleholder Edna Kiplagat are among the top ultimate distance runners named by Athletics Kenya (AK) on Tuesday (17) on the squad of 12 provisional athletes for London Olympics consideration.
The federation stated the final squad of six - three male and an equal number of female competitors - would be announced after the end of the European spring Marathon season on 30 April.
And some of the top runners who made the cut were quick to express their appreciation for the decision to name the probables early enough.
As expected Makau, the Boston and New York champion Geoffrey Mutai, double World gold winner Abel Kirui, Chicago titleholder Moses Mosop, Frankfurt champion Wilson Kipsang and World Majors crown holder Emmanuel Mutai got the nod in the men’s line-up.
World titleholder Edna Kiplagat, London winner Mary Keitany, Berlin winner Florence Kiplagat, Daegu silver winner Priscah Jeptoo, the bronze winner in Korea Sharon Cherop and surprise inclusion veteran Lydia Cheromei who placed second at last year’s Dubai Marathon, were named as the women’s probables.
“Arriving at the names was not easy since 150 men and 50 women made the A-Standard qualifications," AK chief and IAAF Council Member Isaiah Kiplagat told a packed press conference. "Selectors looked at consistency, the ability to win without pace making, discipline and commitment to represent the country when deciding the names.”
“I had a vision that I would run the Olympics in 2012 and I’m really ready for it and my mission is to be in the mix for the final squad in April,” Kirui, the first repeat winner of the Worlds title said from his training base in Iten shortly after the announcement.
“I hope my name will be among those invited to run at the London Marathon when they release the list on Friday and my strategy is to go there and perform well at 85 percent then return home to prepare for the Olympics. I have a strategy for the Games and my aim if to put all my effort and compete at more the 100 percent to defend the title we won in Beijing and all my heart to win is there,” the Administration Police Sergeant added.
“I’m motivated for it and the Olympics have been on my mind for a long time and now, what there is for me is working hard to realise my goal since it will not be easy. I will make my plans clearer in a few days,” Mutai, the fastest ever marathoner at 2:03:02 in Boston who also lowered the New York all time best to 2:05:05, speaking separately expressed.
World women’s Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat expressed, “This is the best time to make that announcement since we need good time for preparation. It will also help those who are not being considered for the Olympics to make their plans to compete in other races.”
Kiplagat, who is aiming to be the only second woman after Portugal’s Rosa Mota to hold the World and Olympics titles simultaneously, also hailed the decision to include her Daegu team mates, silver winner, Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop in the line-up.
“The way we competed in Korea was the best example of what a united team can achieve and I’m happy they also made the list. Like when I fell, Sharon helped me get up and they waited for me to recover before we went for the medals and this is how a team should operate,” she added.
Consequently, the federation gave the probables a week to declare their interest in accepting the London invitation with veteran coach David Letting appointed as the interim head coach for the team.
“We have come up with a programme and we request them to bring their programmes so that we see whether they suit the plan we have of winning both marathon titles in London.
“We shall be having progress reports every two weeks and for now, we saw it fit not to name the final squad so that we could put those selected under observation. This time, we have decided to start preparing early since the Olympics are a special event,” Kiplagat added.
The announcement gives the identified athletes, whose 2012 programme was in limbo as they awaited the naming, time to organise their competition and training plans.
London 2012 organisers put 2:15:00 and 2:37:00 as the A-Standards for the men and women marathon races and with the huge number of Kenyan runners who dipped under the marks in the period under review, AK deemed it fit to make the early declaration.
At the same time, the federation delayed the naming of the probable squads in the men and women 5000m and 10,000m races until after the 18 February IAAF Permit/AK National Cross Country Championships.
“We would have also told you the athletes we expected to go to camp to prepare for these races since we saw the wisdom of specially preparing for them as opposed to lumping them at the Trials in June."
“A separate Trial will be held for them in May to select the final squad to give them adequate time to prepare for the Olympics since we do not want to miss the opportunity to win this medals that we feel we should be winning,” the chairman stated.
The marathoners were selected after a Technical Meeting on Monday having been postponed from the beginning of January.
Mutwiri Mutuota (Capital FM) for IAAF