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Bright side of Kenya’s 800m selection crisis

I appreciate the concerns raised about the selection for the men’s 800 metres team ahead of next month’s IAAF World Championships in London. Looking on the bright side, this is a good problem to have.

A friend from Botswana even quipped that Kenya has a problem selecting the best from a huge pool, while Botswana have just Nijel Amos to pick from in the 800 metres!

The back-and-forth over Michael Saruni’s fate in ‘Team Kenya’ should, hopefully, come to an amicable settlement and the fact that he has remained in camp is a good sign.

There is no doubting the fact that all five athletes in camp — Saruni, David Rudisha, Emmanuel Korir, Kipyegon Bett and Ferguson Rotich — are world class and deserve a ticket to London.

Korir and Bett are in the team by right, having clinched the top two places during the trials while Saruni and Ferguson Rotich were third and fourth respectively. While Rotich has a wildcard by virtue of having won the Diamond League title last season, Rudisha is the defending champion.

Rudisha’s achievements over the last few years speak volumes and he is a huge inspiration to the team. He is also the world record holder and the first human being to run under one minute and 41 seconds, with his world record 1:40.91. Rudisha is also the world and Olympic champion.

What would you do if you were in the shoes of Athletics Kenya’s selectors?

One thing is very clear, only four athletes can be entered and the AK selectors will have to make painful decision of dropping one of the five for the trip to London. It doesn’t really matter who goes, there will still be hue and cry from fans and the public, either way.

But while tackling this enviable problem, we must not lose sight of the fact that Kenya is not competing in the 800 metres alone, and that 42 athletes will represent the country in many other events as well.

Dwelling too much on the 800m selection risks disrupting the team’s general focus and could pollute other performances.

After all, it doesn’t really matter who wins the 800m title in London at the final on August 8 — on the same day as we go to the polls in the General Election — as long as he is Kenyan!

The team to London needs the sort of attention and support our youth were accorded as they flew the flag at the recent IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi.

For they are the glue that will hold our national fabric together during this tension-packed elections period.

Issues of athletes or officials belonging to “certain camps” need not arise as the team is united under one camp — the Kenyan camp.

Drop Ferguson Rotich and hand Saruni his ticket to London!

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