Several athletes were locked out from competing at the National Youth Trials for the World Youth Championship on Tuesday at the Nyayo National stadium as Athletics Kenya,AK as reined in on age cheats.
The start was delayed for almost five hours, as AK painstakingly reviewed identification documents provided by the young runners eager to qualify for the championships in Ukraine.
Some of the athletes had the correct documentations showing that they were born between 1996/97 as required by the IAAF rules but looked much more older.
Others had cronies going through the vetting session only for the real owners of the birth certificates to show up at the start line.
They were discovered when some of them could barely identify the officials who were leading the verification exercise that they were meant to have attended the previous day.
"The vetting went on well yesterday(Monday) but it appears there are some athletes who replaced others .We cannot allow this to happen, otherwise we'll look like we were involved, " said AK Vice President Jack Tuwei who also the heads Youth competitions.
Some of the interviewees could barely remember the names on the birth certificates that informed the decision to verify the runners at the start. Some of those blocked from the competition were Nicholas Kipchumba whose records showed he was 16 and Richard Kirwa born in 1997 who were all registered in Uasin Gishu.
AK to punish coaches too
"My beard caused me this chance. They (officials) just look at your face and when you have hair like mine you're kicked out," lamented Kipchumba, a form two student at Kibiliet Secondary school after he was disqualified from running the 1500m.
The scenario was worse in the boy's 1500m where out of 16 athletes who appeared on the start list for heat one and two, only six qualified for the finals to be run Wednesday.
Tuwei said AK woukd take action on the coaches who cleared the runners to compete at the trials. For instance coach Amos Rono had three of his 15 runners ruled overage.
“Its very difficult to doubt a government document (birth certificate), that’s what they showed me and I have no reason to say they are over age ,” argued Rono.
Stiff competition ahead
Joshua Nasikonde and Alfred Kipkiter are the favourites for the boy's 800m whose final will be run on Wednesday.
The two topped their respective heats. Kipketer topped heat one in 1:48.9 ahead of Patrick Rono (1:50.6) and Weldon Ng'etich third in 1:51.9 Nasikonde was first from heat two in 1:52.2 followed by Albunus Kyalu (1:52.6) and Dennis Kipchumba 1:55.5 In the girls category.
Vivian Jepkemei is expected to face stiff opposition from Agnes Mulee who she beat by only two microsecond in the heat one.
Jepkemei clocked 2:07.7 ahead of Mulee who clocked 2:07.9 ahead of third placed Joyline Cheruitich (2:13.1) Geoffrey Kipkoech will lead seven other finalists in the boy's 400m hurdles as he crossed the line in 52.2 seconds.
Eric Kiptoo who posted 52.8 is also a firm favorite to win this category but Titus Muta who posted the day's third best time of 53.0 is expected to push them all the way through.