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Three top Kenyan athletes fail to win Sydney berths

Three top Kenyan athletes fail to win Sydney berths
Tim Alex (AP)

22 July 2000 - Nairobi, Kenya -  World 3000-metre steeplechase champion Christopher Kosgei faltered in the final at the Kenyan Olympic trials and was one of three major international athletics figures that failed to earn places for the Sydney Games in September.

Kosgei developed problems early in the steeplechase final and did not finish among the top three.

``Immediately after the race started my stomach started paining. I tried to catch up with the leaders, but it was too painful,'' Koskei said.

World junior champion Reuben Kosgei won the race in 8 minutes, 17.6 seconds with world record holder Bernard Barmasai second four-tenths of a second behind. Former world champion Wilson Boit Kipketer placed third in 8:19.7.

Daniel Komen, world record holder in the 3,000, and Commonwealth Games 10,000-metre champion Simon Maina also failed to qualify.

Komen pulled out of the 5,000-metre race with four laps remaining to the surprise of the estimated 25,000 spectators, including President Daniel Arap Moi.

``I could not breathe properly, so I decided the best thing to do was to retire. I know I have disappointed my fans but there's nothing I can do,'' said Komen, a 1997 World Championship gold medalist in the 5,000-metres.

With Komen out, the battle for the top three places was left to five-time world cross-country champion Paul Tergat, All-Africa Games champion Julius Gitahi, Richard Limo and Sammy Kipketer.

Gitahi sprinted past the Tergat for the lead in the final stretch, maintaining the lead to the finish and winning in 13:24.4. Limo finished second in 13:25 with Tergat third another four-tenths back.

Tergat, a 10,000-metre silver medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said he has no choice but to run in the 5,000-metres in the Olympics.

Tergat said he sought to qualify in the 5,000-metre category because running the 10,000-metres in Nairobi and Sydney would be too demanding.

The first three finishers in each event make the team provided they meet the Olympic qualifying standards.

That left out Maina, who failed to reach the podium in the 10,000.

Nineteen-year-old John Korir, a bronze medalist in the World Cross-Country Championships earlier this year in the junior division, won the 10,000 metres in an impressive 27:48.42. David Chelule was second (27:57.10), followed by Patrick Ivuti 27:57.77.

In other events, Lydia Cheromei won the women's 5,000 in 15:07.0, followed by 17-year-old world junior cross country champion Vivian Cheruyiot (15:46.2). Rose Cheruyiot, the wife of former two-time world 5,000 champion Ismail Kirui, was third (15:50.0).

Patrick Konchellah outpaced All-Africa Games champion Japheth Kimutai to win the 800-metre final, winning in 1:45.8. Kimutai, who said he had been spiked, was second in 1:46.2, with Mwengi Mutua third in 1:46.3.

As expected, Noah Ngeny won the 1,500 in 3:38.3 in one of the closest races of the day. Bernard Lagat was three-tenths behind in second with Laban Rotich another two-tenths back in third.

Kenya Amateur Athletic Association (KAAA) secretary-general David Okeyo announced Kenya's Olympic marathon team, selecting Olympic bronze medalist Eric Wainaina, Cheruyiot Kennedy and Ondoro Osoro over reigning Boston Marathon champion Elijah Lagat, two-time Boston Marathon champion Moses Tanui and Japhet Kosgei.

They joined Tegla Loroupe, Esther Wanjiru and Joyce Chepchumba, who will compete in women's marathon.

Okeyo said the three men marathoners were dropped because they have not been training.

``We felt they were not serious, so we decided to replace them. There's nothing fishy about it,'' he said.

Triple jumper Remmy Limo, Jebet Lagat (800-metres) and Jeruto Kiptum (1,500-metres), who placed among the top three finishers in their events without having met the qualifying standard, were provisionally selected. They must meet the qualifying standard in the next several weeks or they will not be allowed to compete inSydney.

Kenyan Team

20-kilometre walk: David Kimutai, Julius Sawe.
200: Ezra John.
400: David Kirui, Simon Kemboi, Kennedy Ochieng.
800: Patrick Konchellah, Japhet Kimutai, Mwengi Mutua.
1,500: Noah Ngeny, Bernard Lagat, Laban Rotich.
3,000 steeplechase: Robert Kosgei, Bernard Barmasai, Wilson Boit Kipketer.
5,000: Julius Gitahi, Richard Limo, Paul Tergat.
10,000: John Korir, Patrick Ivuti, David Chelule.
Marathon: Eric Wainaina, Kennedy Cheruyiot, Ondoro Osoro.
Triple jump: Remmy Limo.
1,600 relay: Kennedy Ochieng, Julius Chepkwony, Sam Chirchir, William Yaipoi.
10,000: Tegla Loroupe, Alice Timbilil, Sally Barsosio.
800: Jebet Lagat.
µ1,500: Naomi Mugo, Jeruto Kiptum.
5,000: Lydia Cheromei, Vivian Cheruyiot, Rose Cheruyiot.
Marathon: Tegla Loroupe, Joyce Chepchumba, Esther Wanjiru.