The Kenyan 10 000 farce, curse continues

Aug 05, 2021
  • Mohamed Farah of Great Britain crosses the line to win gold in the men's 10,000m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium.(Photo:London 2012)

It was touted as Kenya’s best ever assembled 10 000m squad in recent times.

The trial was held miles away in Eugene, Oregon as Athletics Kenya did everything possible including holding an unusual pre-Olympics training camp as they sought to break the four decade jinx that had beset the country’s runners at the longest track event of the Olympics.

Evidently the early distance selection counted little when it mattered most. On Saturday evening Kenyans naturally played their all too familiar pacing role.

Wilson Kiprop whose 27:01.96 from his Olympic qualifying race, gave him a head start was in control for much of the opening 2000m, perharps looking to test his leg injury.

As fate would have it, the injury seemed to get the best of him as he pulled out of the race after the halfway mark seemingly unable to cope with the pace Eritrean Zernasey Tadese, the former World cross country champion had injected into the run as the field reached 5000m in 14:05.79.

He too like Joyce Chepkurui the night before, would be listed DNF (did not finish), and tagged injured.

Kiprop, the 2010 African champion, had been nursing an injury for most of the six weeks the team was in residential training that was aggravated by the race.

“It was sad to lose Kiprop during the race,” noted his teammate Moses Masai, who finished a poor 10th in 27:41.34.

“The injury was something he worked to fight while we were at Kasarani and it must have gotten the best of him today.”

The injury that plagued him for most of the season in 2009 returned just before his biggest career race.

Shockingly, it is an injury that was never picked by the coaches led by Julius Kirwa who closely monitored the team in training or the Olympic village non-residential team Doctor Victor Bargoria, worse still ignored.

Easier, to tag the injured, qualified and accredited to the Olympics than go through the hassle and needless pain of picking a replacement?

True Kenyan way; if it’s not broken don’t fix it. Many more questions now linger. How many more injuries will manifest by the end of the competition, August 11?

Over at home,Kenyans registered their dejection with the poor performance in the long distance races and questioned the selection and preparations.

Race fitness dogged the Ethiopians too

Ethiopia hung onto the belief that Kenenisa Bekele, the world record and Olympic champion from Beijing would peak in London, and never doubted his fitness levels.

But it was apparent at the Olympic stadium when Gebregziabher Gebremariam unsuccessfully tried to tag him along for a possible breakaway.

Like in most of his races this season found comfort in the pack, unusual for a runner who had destroyed competition with his devastating pace.

“I am the only one asking about his readiness to defend his title with absolute commitment?” Tamiru Woldemichael, a seasoned Ethiopian journalist, had posed before the race.

“Around six months ago, (Bekele) said ‘I don’t want to reach my limit too early at this time“. This is a statement uncommon to him; it is very contradictory to his unrivalled success and every day supremacy.”

Bekele was undoubtedly pleased with his fourth placing in 27.32.44 behind his brother Tariku, the bronze medallist in 29:31.43. Forget the injuries.

You see it was a painstakingly slow race that eventually favoured a charged up Mo Farah racing for team Britain.

“The pace was very slow and it favoured the field more so Farah who never paced and timed his powerful kick,” said Masai, who combined well with Bidan Karoki, fifth in 27:32.94 to speed up the field.

“We didn't want the race to be fast .Our plan was to run up to the 5000m as slow as possible and to make it fast in the second phase of the race,” Tariku offered.

Cheered on by a zealous home crowd at the 80 000 capacity stadium, the high-altitude training in Iten, he had it all going. He timed it well.

Even when the Ethiopians and Kenyan seemed well poised to turn the race in their favour, the Somali born runner held back his surge content to stay in a packed group of 15, as the pace averaged to 66.51 with 12 laps remaining, an increase from the 69.05 they had began with. Masai paced up to 63.84 with 9 laps remaining with Karoki breathing down his neck.

By then Farah, had eased his way up and was just a touching distance as Gebremariam briefly held forte. But with no support from his teammates he was overran by Karoki, the All African games silver medallist.

Farah eased forward charged further at the bell to a fast 53.48 seconds last lap, as American champion Galen Rupp raced home with him for his country’s first Olympic medal in 10000m since 1964.

"When I saw Tariku at the front I thought 'this is getting serious', so I just worked my way through. I was just trying to close the gap early on,” Farah recounted after his 27:30.42 win.

"The crowd was getting louder and louder. I had to work hard through the home stretch and when I crossed the finish line I just thought, 'did that really happen?"

He was immediately mobbed by his daughter and wife on the tracks amid cheers and a standing ovation from the home fans.

"It's weird seeing Great Britain and USA in the medals for a middle distance race, “Rupp said of his silver in 27:30.90 and that of his training partner and close friend Farah.

“I wouldn't be where I am today without him(Farah). I'm the lucky one - I get to train with the best middle distance runner in the world."

For Kenya the count continues, 44 years without the 10000m gold, another lesson learnt or a mess repeated.

“We have definitely improved. They beat us in the 100m this time and not the 1000m. We shall work on it for our future races,” Karoki argued.

3000m Steeplechase qualifiers

Even the morning session results didn't look too good. Lydia Rotich struggled and was locked out of the 3000m steeplechase finals, while prerace favourite Milcah Chemos did not impress in her third place qualification from heat one crossing the line third in 9:27.09 behind Felicitas Krause of Germany(9:24.91) and Ethiopian Etenesh Diro(9:25.31).I hope not another 'silent injury case.'

I'm feeling good. My aim was to qualify, ”Chemos explained.”I wanted to conserve my energy for the final.”Ethiopian Assefa Sofia qualified strongly in 9:25.42 in the second heat in which Rotich faded to eighth in 9:42.03, denting Kenya’s team tactics in the race.

Njoroge’s heat was the fastest of the three which again went Ethiopia’s way, as Hiwot Ayalew timed first in 9:24.01. Russian Yuliya Zaripova qualified second(9:25.68) ahead of Njoroge in 9:25.99.

Former world champion Ugandan Dorcas Inzikuru was left ruing her chances her again as she struggled to finish seventh in 9:35.29.

Selected 10 000m Results

1       Mohamed Farah(GBR)     27:30.42 

2       Galen Rupp(USA) 27:30.90    

3       Tariku Bekele  (ETH)27:31.43

4       Kenenisa Bekele( ETH)27:32.44      

5       Bedan Karoki Muchiri( KEN) 27:32.94    

6       Zersenay Tadese( ERI)27:33.51      

7       Teklemariam Medhin( ERI)27:34.76       

8       Gebregziabher Gebremariam(ETH)27:36.34  

9       Polat Kemboi Arikan( TUR)27:38.81(PB)

10     Moses Ndiema Kipsiro( UGA)27:39.22   

11     Cameron Levins( CAN)27:40.68     

12     Moses Ndiema Masai( KEN)27:41.34      

 

 

 Evelyn Watta in London

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