Athletics Kenya Olympic trials: 3 big names who must get it right at 'mini Olympics'

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Athletics Kenya Olympic trials: 3 big names who must get it right at 'mini Olympics'

Joel Omotto 06:00 - 12.06.2024

Athletics Kenya will conduct its Olympics trials at Nyayo Stadium this weekend and there are three former champions who have no margin for error after recent disappointing spells.

Kenyan athletes will be vying for the coveted Olympics tickets when Athletics Kenya selects its team to the Paris 2024 Games during the trials slated for this Friday and Saturday at Nyayo National Stadium.

It will be a fiercely-contested affair as this is the final chance for most athletes to seal a ticket to the Games.

Olympics champions, former medallists and first timers will all be vying for the tickets to Paris with pedigree and status counting for nothing at Nyayo Stadium.

Among those expected at Nyayo are a host of Kenyan athletes who were dominant forces in their respective races before but have seen their stock fall significantly in recent years hence a need for redemption.

Timothy Cheruiyot

The 2019 world 1,500m champion heads to the trials not in the form he was in between 2017 and 2022.

During that period, he bagged gold at the 2019 World Championships, having won silver two years earlier, and also had as many silver medals at the Commonwealth Games.

Cheruiyot won four Diamond League trophies and bagged silver in 1,500m at the Tokyo Olympics.

However, his stock has fallen since 2023 with injuries also contributing to his tribulations as he failed to get past the semi-finals at the 2023 World Championships and took a break until the 2024 Kip Keino Classic in April when he managed seventh place in 800m.

He, however, returned with a bang in the 1,500m with back-to-back second-place finishes at the Doha and Oslo Diamond Leagues, which puts him in good stead ahead of the trials, where he is up against new kids on the block like Reynold Cheruiyot and Brian Komen.

Emmanuek Korir

Olympic 800m champion Emmanuel Korir is a man under pressure as the Olympics trials approach.

The 28-year-old only returned to action at the Rabat Diamond League last month since his disappointing outing at the 2023 World Championships, when he was eliminated at the heats, and subsequently failed to defend his title.

Korir was just returning after a long injury layoff but found the going tough in Rabat, finishing ninth, and heading into the trials, he has yet to attain the Olympics qualifying standard which puts his title defence at risk.

He will need to improve massively this weekend to clinch his ticket to Paris amid an onslaught from world silver medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi and experienced Wycliffe Kinyamal as well as Ferguson Rotich, two runners he knows too well.

Conselus Kipruto

Another high-profile athlete who must get it right at the trials is two-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto, who like Korir, also made his long-awaited comeback last month after an eight-month hiatus.

It was a nightmare return for Kipruto who finished 18th and is also yet to attain the Olympic qualifying mark.

The 2016 Olympic champion has not been the same since 2019 with injuries, poor form and personal issues conspiring to slow down his career.

He missed the 2020 Olympics, before managing bronze and the 2022 Worlds, but failed to qualify for last year’s global championships and heading to Paris, few are banking on him for medals in a race that was Kenya’s stronghold before things went south, starting with the Tokyo Games.

Kipruto can, however, silence his doubters with a good performance at the trials just as he did in 2019 when he defended his world title against the odds.

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