Amos Abuga @PeopleSports11
Athletics Kenya senior vice president Paul Mutwii has defended his decision to include Olympic and World 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto in Team Kenya for the August 19-31 All Africa Games to be held in Rabat, Morocco.
This is after a section of stakeholders questioned the inclusion of the steeplechase specialist in the team despite spending most of the season on the sidelines due to an injury.
The move is being perceived as a huge gamble by AK more so going to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in September at time when Kenya’s dominance in the water and hurdles race is facing stiff competition.
Kipruto only featured in the March 30 World Cross-Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark but has not been in action since. The
African champion and 2018 IAAF Diamond League Trophy winner is yet to feature in the 2019 version of the latter with only four legs of the 14 remaining.
“We have gathered sufficient information that the athlete is in good shape to run in Morocco. That will be a huge boost to the team in general,” said Mutwii, who is in charge of the competitions docket.
Head coach Julius Kirwa believes the presence of Kipruto will motivate upcoming athletes Benjamin Kigen and Joash Kiplimo, who were selected during the African Games trails last month, an event Kipruto did not turn up for
“I will not have recommended him if I was not certain he is up to task. It is unfortunate he has suffered injury setbacks recently, but we are glad to have him back,” said Kirwa.
Kirwa said the Commonwealth gold medallist will line up in the August 20-22 National Championships which will also double up as trials for the Doha World Championships.
Also drafted into the Africa Games team is World and Commonwealth 1,500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot who will team up with World Under-20 and Under-18 1,500m champion George Manangoi and Boaz Kiprugut.
Mutwii believes Cheruiyot, the defending 1,500m Diamond League champion, will fatten Kenya’s basket haul in Morocco despite not being available during the continental games trials.
“Timothy is one of the best athletes in the world in 1,500m. We are glad he too will be joining the team as part of his preparations for the Doha Championships,” added Mutwii.
Hyvin Kiyeng, world 3,000m champion in 2015, is also in the Africa games team. The world bronze medallist will team up with world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech and Mercy Wanjiru in the women’s race in Rabat.
Meanwhile, Panuel Mkungo, Titus Ekuru and Morris Munene have been named in the men’s half marathon team for the Africa Games while the women’s squad has Caroline Jebet Korir, Hellen Jepkurgat and Grace Kimanzi.