Meet the little-known athletes set to fly Kenya’s flag at Paris 2024 Olympics

Meet the little-known athletes set to fly Kenya’s flag at Paris 2024 Olympics

Joel Omotto 06:00 - 18.06.2024

Athletics Kenya unveiled the country’s team to the Paris Olympics and the lineup includes some new names who will be hoping to make a big impact in the French capital.

Athletics Kenya finally selected Team Kenya to the Paris Olympics with hopes that the country will improve on the 10 medals won in Tokyo at the last edition.

Kenya won four gold medals, as many silvers, and two bronze in Tokyo, in what was a much-reduced tally from the three previous editions, but there are hopes that things will be different this time.

Among those selected are defending champions Faith Kipyegon (1,500m), Eliud Kipchoge and Peres Jepchirchir, both marathon, while 800m holder Emmanuel Korir missed out completely.

However, in the team, there are also new names who have made the list against all odds and have dreams of not only representing their country at the prestigious event but also winning medals.

So, who are the little-known athletes who earned the rare chance to fly Kenya’s flag at the Olympics.

Lilian Odira -Women’s 800m

Few knew who Lilian Odira was before the trials but she left the event as one of the surprise packages.

Odira made it into Team Kenya due to a combination of different circumstances but mostly thanks to world champion Mary Moraa.

During the 800m women’s final, Mary Moraa, who was on course to winning the race, slowed down in the final metres in an attempt to allow her cousin Sarah Moraa a place on the podium and a ticket to Paris.

The strategy played to Odira’s advantage as she used the opportunity to snatch victory and most importantly, attain the Olympics qualifying time.

Odira, who came back from maternity break recently, clocked 1:59.27 to cross the finish line, getting inside the 1:59.30 needed for an Olympics ticket, ahead of Mary Moraa (1:59.35), who had already clocked the time needed, and now, it is Sarah Moraa (1:59.39), who will be looking for the qualifying standard ahead of the June 30 deadline.

It was a major achievement for the 25-year-old who finished fourth in 800m at the African Games early this year, before failing to finish her 1,500m race at the Kip Keino Classic.

Koitatoi Kidali -Men’s 800m

Another new name making the trip to Paris is 21-year-old Koitatoi Kidali who finished third in the men’s 800m final behind world silver medallist Emannuel Wanyonyi and Commonwealth champion Wycliffe Kinyamal.

Wanyonyi ran a world leading time of 1:41.70, the third fastest time in history, as Kinyamal grabbed the second and final automatic place, after clocking 1:42.50, while Kidale completed the podium in 1:42.66.

Kidali was the third athlete handed the ticket by the Athletics Kenya panel of selectors and he will make his international bow for Kenya at the Olympics.

The youngster is a novice at this stage and even missed a ticket to the African Games when he finished fifth at the trials but he can count on having 19-year-old Wanyonyi and 26-year-old Kinyamal for company.

Susan Ejore -Women’s 1,500m

At 28, most Kenyan athletes would be in the prime of their careers but Susan Ejore is just starting to get noticed.

Ejore finished third in the women’s 1,500m final at the trials and made the team courtesy of the panel of selectors.

Defending champion Faith Kipyegon obliterated the field to win in 3:53.98 followed by Nelly Chepchirchir (3:48.56) while Ejore completed the podium in 4:00.22.

Ejore was the third athlete to have attained the qualifying time of 4:02.50 from the lineup, making it an easy decision for the selectors.

The athlete has spent most of her time in the United States since earning a scholarship in 2015 and has represented the University of Oregon in a number of events over the years, posting good performances.

Coming into the trials, Ejore had not shown many promising signs as she finished eighth in Doha before 11th at the Eugene Diamond League although third place in a personal best 3:58.63 at the Los Angles Grand Prix suggested she could not be ignored and lived up to the billing by earning a place in Team Kenya for the first time.

Daniel Munguti -Men’s 1,500m

Newcomer Daniel Munguti is another one who will be hoping to shine in Paris, although unlike the others on the list, he will need to attain the qualifying standard to realise his Olympics dream.

Munguti finished second at the trials after clocking 3:35.80 behind Reynold Cheruiyot (3:35.63) and Olympics silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot 3:35.90.

Unlike the other two, who had already hit the required time at previous event, Munguti’s second place will mean nothing if he does not run 3:33.50 and below before June 30 as it would lock him out of the Olympics.

If he makes it, the 29-year-old will add another feather to his cap after winning the Mixed Relay event at the World Cross-Country Championships in Serbia in March given he is a new entrant into the 1,500m race.

Munguti came close to hitting the Olympics qualifying standard when he clocked 3:33.71 for third place finish at Kip Keino Classic in April and will need to push a little more for a ticket to Paris.

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