Athletics coach explains the headache he faced selecting Kenya’s marathon team for Paris Olympics

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Athletics coach explains the headache he faced selecting Kenya’s marathon team for Paris Olympics

Joel Omotto 10:00 - 06.12.2023

The veteran coach has explained the challenges he had to overcome to settle on the provisional marathon squad that will represent Kenya at the Paris 2024 Olympics

Veteran athletics coach Julius Kirwa has revealed how he faced a difficult time narrowing down to 20 athletes who will represent Kenya at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Athletics Kenya (AK) named a provisional squad of 20 (10 men and as many women) with marathon great Eliud Kipchoge, world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, Boston and New York Marathon champion Hellen Obiri as well as three-time world half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir among the big names included.

While the selection was based heavily on world ranking and athletes’ performances in major marathons, Kirwa admits it was a herculean task given the many good runners in the country.

“We are selecting them based on their time and world ranking. We are allowed to field three athletes only and in Kenya, we have about 120 athletes who are capable of representing the country,” said Kirwa.

“Other countries have a few to pick from but here, it has not been easy. I have taken a lot of time monitoring and some are still coming up like Alexander Mutiso ran very well in Valencia [finished second in 2:03:11 on Sunday] but it was too late to put in someone.

“We followed the world ranking and in Kenya we have Kiptum leading then Eliud so there was no need of jumping. We follow that way unless someone withdraws and you go to the next best ranked runner.”

Besides Kipchoge and Kiptum, Vincent Ngetich, second at the Berlin Marathon this year, Rotterdam Marathon runners-up Timothy Kiplagat, former Chicago and Boston Marathon champion Benson Kipruto, Bernard Koech, two-time New York Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Cyprian Kotut, 2022 London Marathon champion Amos Kipruto and Titus Kipruto also made the list.

The women’s team has Obiri and Jepchirchir as well as former world record holder Brigid Kosgei, Tokyo Marathon champion Rosemary Wanjiru, former world champion Marathon Ruth Chepng’etich, former world half marathon record holder Joycilline Jepkosgei, Sheila Chepkirui, Judith Jeptum Korir, Selly Chepyego and Sharon Lokedi.

However, world ranking was not the only consideration given Joshua Belet and Ronald Korir, who who are ahead of Kamworor on the rankings, missed out same as Dorcas Chepchirchir and Jackline Chelal.

AK explained that they also looked at consistency, championship mentality and the attitude of the athletes before setting on the squad.

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