Athletics Kenya: Tokyo Olympics trials will be invite-only

Beatrice Chepkoech celebrates

Beatrice Chepkoech (left) celebrates on October 3, 2020 after winning 3,000 metres women steeplechase race during the World Continental Tour at Nyayo Stadium.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mutwii said that the trials for the Tokyo Olympics have been pushed backward to June 17 to 19 from June 26 to 27 at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium, Eldoret.

The national trials for the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic Games will be through invitation, Athletics Kenya has revealed.

AK director for competitions, Paul Mutwii disclosed Wednesday that the athletes that will be invited are those who will have attained the qualifying standards and the probables.

Kenya has been forced to focus on the trials and perhaps the Diamond League, World Athletics Continental Gold Tour and World Athletics Challenge events to try have more athletes attain the qualifying standards for the Tokyo Games.

In a related development, the Africa Senior Athletics Championships that had been deferred from June 1-5 to June 24 to 28 in Algiers, was postponed once more on Wednesday.

The continental event was to act as the last qualifying opportunity for those who will not have attained the Olympic mark.

The national trials for the continental event that were put off on April 16 to 17 at the Nyayo National Stadium after a lockdown was imposed due to Covid-19 cases, had been rescheduled for May 27 to 29 at the same venue.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) in Algeria announced that they have postponed the event to a later date, due to the health situation linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and following "the recommendations" of the scientific committee for monitoring the evolution of the pandemic.

"Due to the health situation, marked by a rebound in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of circulation of new variant (s), the competent authorities, following the recommendations of the scientific monitoring committee of the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic, recommended to postpone this sporting event to a later date," said the ministerial department in a press release.

The MYS called on the Algerian Athletics Federation (FAA) to make the necessary arrangements to inform the African Athletics Confederation (CAA), in order to agree on the new dates to hold the championships as soon as the situation health will be better.

Mutwii said that the trials for the Tokyo Olympics have been pushed backward to June 17 to 19 from June 26 to 27 at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium, Eldoret.

However, it remains to be seen whether the Olympic trials will be held at Kipchoge Keino Stadium that is still under construction with no possibilities of it being ready to host any event.

So far, 90 athletes have attained their Olympic qualifying standards including the final team of eight marathoners - four men and four women.

“We expect more athletes to hit their respective Olympic qualifying standards before the closure of the qualifying window at the end of June,” said Mutwii.

Mutwii said that they are determined to have all those qualifying for Olympics adhering to World Athletics anti-doping requirements.

Kenya that has been put in Category A of countries where doping is prevalent must have its athletes going through three out-of-competition tests within 10 months to either the Olympics or World Athletics Championships.

Olympic javelin silver medallist Julius Yego is the only field events athlete who has qualified for the Olympics, having surpassed the qualifying mark of 85m during the 2019 African Games in Rabat.

Yego hauled 87.73 m to win gold.

Only two athletes have qualified in sprints for Olympics - Hellen Syombua and 800m specialist Emmanuel Korir all in 400m. Syombua clocked 51.09 when breaking the national record in 2019 in Nairobi, beating the time of 51.35.

Korir timed 44.37, beating the Olympic mark of 44.90, at the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships.

Kenya only has three qualifiers in women’s 800m - 2018 World Under-18 800 champion Jackline Wambui (1:58.79), 2013 world 800m champion Eunice Sum (1:58.99) and Emily Cherotich (1:59.23).

They attained the time during the national trials for the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships.

Technically, Kenya only has two qualifiers in women’s 1,500m; Olympics 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich and 2018 Continental Cup 1,500m champion Winnie Chebet.

The other qualifier Beatrice Chepkoech specialises in steeplechase where she is the world champion and record holder.

Athletics Kenya's panel of coaches are said to be considering having some athletes double up based on the athletics program in Tokyo.

For instance, Chepkoech can take a shot at 1,500m and 3,000m steeplechase while Korir can try his luck in 400m and 800m. Korir reached the 400m final but lost in the semi-finals in 800m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.