US visa hitch locks Simiu, Jepleting and Chemining out of Paris Olympics trials

Daniel Simiu Ebenyo

Second-placed Kenya's Daniel Simiu Ebenyo celebrates after competing in the men's 10,000m final during the World Athletics Championships at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest on August 20, 2023.

Photo credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP

World 10,000m silver medallist Daniel Simiu is among three athletes who will miss the Paris Olympic 10,000m trials scheduled for Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, USA.

Simiu, the Commonwealth Games and World Half Marathon silver medallist, Commonwealth Games 10,000m bronze medallist Selah Jepleting and Loice Chemining failed to get their visas to America for the race.

The new development has now forced Athletics Kenya (AK) to change the mode of selection for the men's and women's trials that will coincide with the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League.

AK president Jack Tuwei has announced that the trials will go ahead in the USA but the first two athletes to cross the finish line will go to the Paris Olympics, a change from the previous selection mode where the first three athletes would have claimed the tickets.

Tuwei revealed that a panel of selectors will then decide who gets the third spot in each team, with Simiu most likely to be considered.

At the same time, Tuwei revealed that the team for the African Athletics Championships, scheduled for 19-23 June in Douala, Cameroon, will be released next week following clearance by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The team for the continental event was selected during the two-day National Athletics Championships that ended yesterday at the Ulinzi Sports Complex. The top two finishers made the team pending verification of qualifying standards and compliance with anti-doping rules.

"It's not their fault that they missed the trials in the USA and we don't want to leave anyone out," said Tuwei, explaining that the trials in the USA were in the interest of the athletes.

Tuwei said seven people who had not been granted visas had been summoned to the embassy for interviews and the rest had been granted visas, except for three. "We can't exclude them, so we will select two and then see how best we can engage to name the third athlete," Tuwei said.

The team left for the USA in two batches, on Monday and Tuesday night respectively.

Tuwei said a team would be selected for the African event before being sent to the AIU for approval.

" We don't have a situation where the selected athletes are stopped from running because of a fall to meet some anti-doping requirements like what happens at the African Games," Tuwei said.