The 4x 400m relay team, Sawe are simply not qualified for Rio

By evelyn watta
Jul 27, 2016
  • Kenya's 4 x 400m relay team that won gold at the All Africa games in Congo last year.(Photo:SNA File)

  • Mathew Sawe during the competition in Durban where he won the gold in 2.21m.(Photo:SNA File)

As is usual with the Kenyan pre Olympic camp for Rio have not been been spared some side shows.

The circus this time as in recent years, has been around the track and field team with the grumbles within the Rugby teams silenced,with the sevens players safe in Rio.

There is never doubts on the qualification process for Kenya’s main events which usually run from the 800m to the 10 000m, it is 1-2 across the line at the Olympic trials with Athletics Kenya,AK, selectors picking the third runners and the marathoners.

When AK named the team for Rio Olympics at the end of the two day trials in Eldoret on July 1, there was a surprise inclusion, the African High jump champion Mathew Sawe, never mind he had not attained the qualification mark.

His best mark of 2.25m from last July when set the national record at the trials, was well within the IAAF stipulated qualification period of May 1, 2015 to July 11, 2015. It was a bitter sweet gold for Sawe at the African championships. He was not clearly excited after being crowned the African champion on June 24 at the Kings Park Athletics stadium in Durban.

AK we are chasing 'B standards' for Sawe 

“I am not excited because I really wanted 2.29,” Sawe told Sports News Arena in Durban, citing the qualification mark that he hoped would confirm his ticket to Rio.

The 2.21m mark that ranked him top the final was a huge disappointment, more so as the National Olympics Committee confirmed that the Olympic trials would be held in Eldoret, a stadium that lacked the right facilities, meaning he was unlikely to chase qualification there and again he will not have the needed competition to push him to the mark.

In Eldoret, when it was apparent that they could not hold the high jump competition, Sawe then was frantically searching the internet and pursuing Athletics Kenya officials to see if they could support his travel to a diamond league, a challenge or any other meeting in Europe so that he could chase qualification. Unfortunately, this was not to be.

The Diamond league in Monaco on July 15 would be after the qualification period of July 11 set by IAAF who have since published the World ranking list for Olympic Games qualification which unfortunately does not include a single African.

The IAAF challenge series had ended. Five times African champion Kabelo Kgosiemang of Botswana who finished fourth behind Sawe in Durban has struggled this season.

His best mark this season is 2.25m same as the Kenyan, his dreams for the first ever Olympic qualification falling flat, a disappointing turn of events for the athlete who was one of the beneficiaries of the IOC Olympic solidarity this season.

The Olympic scholarship for athletes is a programme designed to ensure athletes prepare and compete in Rio. 

“There was another method we were trying to get Sawe to compete in Rio,” argued Paul Mutwii, Athetics Kenya Vice President, fanning Sawe’s hopes of making it somehow, even with his 2..25 mark.

“We were trying the B standards,” he continued an incomprehensible assertion as the track and field governing body confirmed in April 2015 that there would be only single entry standards for Rio Olympic games, rather than the A and B standards.

The Olympic standards have been slightly higher thus locking out athletes in events that they are not so strong in.

“If we go about dropping athletes we are locking ourselves out of competition because other countries are diversifying into our strong events and we also need to encourage the young ones and other to try field events.”

Kenya relay team rankes 18th the world 

It is the same line of deduction that also locked out the men’s 4 x 400m relay team, the distant silver winners from last month’s African championships convincingly won by the youthful in form Botswana team.

You see the 3:00.34 winning mark from the All Africa games in Brazzaville and the 3:04.29 time from Durban when averaged ranks Kenya at 18th of the top 20 teams in the IAAF ranked best performances as at July 11.

That automatically locks Kenya out of top 16 teams that will line up in Rio. The Top eight relay teams from the 2015 World relays are the USA, Bahamas, Belarus, Jamaica, Brazil, Great Britain, Trinidad and Tobago and Botswana in that order.

The IAAF clearly states that ‘the remaining teams will be selected according to the IAAF world ranking list of 12 July based on the aggregate from the two fastest times achieved by the national teams in the qualification period…”

This therefore means that Kenya still does not fall in the top 16 teams and even with the exclusion of the Russian team(11th) which have been banned by the IAAF from the Olympics, the obvious replacement would be the number 17th ranked team which is Japan whose aggregate is 6:04.56 to Kenya’s 6:04.59.

Athletes Entries by names have been finalised

“We have told them that they have not qualified and they don’t want to accept that reality. Entries by name have been finalised and it was signed off on July 21 and unless the athlete is injured and he or she can not compete you can not make any changes,” explained James Chacha, who is the Executive Officer for team Kenya to Rio, seeking to expel claims that the NOC has unfairly excluded some athletes from the team.

It is clear that Kenya will have only one field athlete Julius Yego, and two 400m runners Alphas Kishoyian whose qualifying best mark of 44.75 from Kasarani last year and Alex Sampao(45.22) who was second in the same race.

The duo alongside Boniface Mweresa(45.01 from Brazzaville) and Raymond Kibet(45.39 from Kasarani) are listed in the world ranking list for Rio.

Certainly, the exclusion of the second fastest man from the quartet raises concerns with the Athletics body sweating over the issue as NOCK made it clear that they did not include Mweresa’s name in the final submission.