NAIROBI, Kenya:July 1 (Xinhua) — Confusion continued to mar Kenya Olympic team training plans with National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and Athletics Kenya giving conflicting information.
Isaiah Kiplagat, AK chairman, said the coaches shot down the idea to train in Bristol and it is in the interest of athletes not to take the team to England too early.
However Stephen Soi, the Nock assistant treasurer, who is in charge of team logistics, reaffirmed the trip is on and the team is due to depart for Bristol on Sunday. “We said no to the idea to train in Bristol. The athletes will stay in Nairobi and Eldoret for their training,” Kiplagat said on Saturday.
“We had a joint meeting with Nock, athletics coaches and the steering committee members where it was agreed that the idea to train in Bristol is not in the interest of this team. They asked the coaches and the technical team their opinion and they said no. It is wrong for Nock to force athletes to do what they do not want.
I hear they are even giving out cash incentives to the athletes to agree to travel with them to Bristol,” said Kiplagat. Kiplagat gave the example of 1996 Atlanta Games, where Kenya forced the athletes to train in USA.
The results are there for all to see. It was a disaster and we came back with only one gold medal (Joseph Keter 3,000m steeplechase). We do not want a similar situation,” said Kiplagat.
But Team Kenya CEO Stephen Soi insisted that training in Bristol was important for the team to fine tune their form and skills ahead of the Olympics, which start in London on July 27 to August 12.
“They will be able to have good speed work, work on modern gym and machines and get the best diet for the games. There should be no objection to this idea whatsoever,” Soi said.
“Athletics Kenya must stop cheating athletes. We know they wanted them to train in Bredford City in England. It is only after we refused saying the deal for Bristol was already in place that they want to jeopardize our plans. We will not allow them to do so, ” said Soi.
But Kiplagat noted that the responsibility of selecting the team was theirs and Nock should not interfere.
“We cannot give responsibility to people who have failed to produce anything to develop sports. They now want to force them ( athletes) to go to Bristol and those who refuse will be dropped. That is wrong, selection of the team is our responsibility,” said Kiplagat.
Kenya Team contingent has four disciplines, consisting of athletics with 43 competitors, swimming two, boxing two and weightlifting one, for the trip to London Olympics. Kenya Team captain and world 800m champion David Rudisha also waded into the murky issue saying athletes, AK and Nock need to agree on a common formula.
“Everyone has his concern on the trip to Bristol. But the best solution lies in discussing it out among the officials and the athletes. I suggest athletes be allowed to give their opinions and then a final decision be made over it,” said Rudisha.
Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo said she has to ask her management before making public her decision.
“I believe the management of the Olympics team and my agents will agree on the best decision. But I will continue to train in Nairobi for the time being,” she said.
Isaiah Kiplangat, named in the 5,000m race, who is in the same management team with Jelimo (Golazo Sports) is training in Eldoret and is not even considering coming to Nairobi or Bristol for that matter.
“I’m comfortable where I train. They should let me train where I want,” he said.
Both Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic 1,500m champion and world silver medallist Silas Kiplagat have also shot down the idea of training in Bristol. Swimmers Jason Dunford and his brother David Dunford are training in Italy.
Former athletes Moses Tanui, Benjamin Limo and Moses Kiptanui have also asked Nock to have the team train in Nairobi.
“The Olympics is an endurance event and we can only get that by training at altitude and not going to a place like Bristol which is low altitude,” said Tanui.
Tanui who spoke on behalf of Limo and Kimutai said training in Nairobi where the athletes are at the moment will put them in good shape before they fly out to London and conquer the world like they did in Beijing, China four years ago.
“The team to the 1988 Olympics trained in Kenya ahead of the games and also the one to the 2008 Olympics games also trained in Kenya and the results from the two events are all there for us to see.
The food and the weather that the athletes will be subjected to in Bristol will not be good for them before a major event like the Olympics and Nock should cancel the training plans in Bristol and allow the runners to do their training here in Kenya,” Tanui told local media.
Tanui who won 10,000m gold at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo and silver in Stuttgart two years later urged Sports Minister Paul Otuoma to intervene and stop the athletes from going to train in Bristol. (Xinhua)