Cornelius entered to replace Wanyonyi in 800m, Kibiwot in 3000m steeple

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, Aug 3 – Kenya’s men 800m and 3000m steeplechase teams have been boosted after the organisers of the Commonwealth Games accepted the entries of Cornelius Tuwei and Abraham Kibiwot.

As Kenya gears up to start its men’s 800m gold defence tomorrow (Wednesday) in the heats, finally Tuwei will be in the start list, replacing World Under-20 champion Emmanuel Wanyonyi, who opted out to honor contractual obligations and compete in the Diamond League.

Tuwei, who brings in experience from the Africa Games where he won silver in 2019, will team up with Elias Ngeny and defending champion Wyclife Kinyamal.

Conseslus Kipruto jokes with Abraham Kibiwott after he let him finish second at the national trials. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Meanwhile, in the men’s steeplechase scheduled for Saturday, title holder Conseslus Kipruto will carry Kenya’s flag alongside World Under-20 champion Amos Serem and 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medalist Kibiwot.

Kibowot, who is fresh from finishing 5th at the Oregon World Championships was to be replaced by Amos Kirui, but it was too late to make the changes.

The entries follow further consultations from the National Olympic Committe of Kenya (NOC-K) with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) that manages sports entries at the top level before handing over to the respective International Federation.

-Tergat on organization-

From L-R (Athletics Kenya boss Jackson Tuwei, NOC-K Chief Paul Tergat, NOC-K Sec Gen Francis Mutuku and Team Kenya Commonwealth Games Chief de mission John Ogola during the press briefing in Birmingham.

Meanwhile, speaking at a joint press conference from Birmingham, NOC-K said they tried their best to ensure all members of Team Kenya were registered and able to participate.

Chef de Mission of the team, John Ogola, said they were constrained by certain conditions governing the registration of athletes for the games.

“As you’ve heard from the president Paul Tergat, late athlete entry, there are certain conditions you are supposed to comply with.

The policy dictated that all entries should have been made by June 29 this year whereas any late entries could only be made in instances of doping, Covid-19 cases and medical grounds.

 “We are doing well…we are focused and ready to perfome well in this competition. Of course, we have had a few challenges here and there, but everyone is now set and we hope to get more medals in this competition.”

Tergat said the future is bright for Kenyan sports, pointing to the young age of competitors in Team Kenya.

Tergat cited 17-year-old weightlifter Rachel Achieng and the ladies’ hockey team as bright spots in the competition, which kicked off on Thursday last week.

“Majority of teams that came to participate in this competition are very young. If you look at the young girl in weightlifting, she lifted all the way from 65kg to 75kg. If you look at the hockey team they are doing very well, a young team competing

at this level for the first time in a while,’ Tergat said.

He added, “The basketballers have also played

well, going all the way to the quarters. We are proud of them.”

The five-time world cross country champion said he is looking forward to the second week, when many athletics competitions commence, with Kenya expected to dominate.

“We are excited and looking forward to the second week when athletics begins. We are aiming to collecting more medals as we have already done in the marathons,” he said.

-Tuwei on athletes doubling-

World Bronze medallist Mary Moraa

Athletics Kenya chief Jack Tuwei said the federation cannot force athletes to compete in numerous competitions close to each other like this year’s World Championship and the Commonwealth Games.

Tuwei said doubling in two major competitions is taxing on the mind and body of an athlete hence the federation would understand why some runners would turn down the chance to don Team Kenya’s singlet in certain events.

“It is not easy for an athlete to compete at two major championships in such a short time. Therefore, you will find some of them are not at the required level to perform well while others may get injured.”

“There are others who may not be willing to compete in both competitions. For example, Wanyonyi (World Under 20 800m

champion) was not willing to compete in Birmingham after competing in Oregon.”

“So, you cannot force an athlete to compete when he is not willing to,” Tuwei said.

The president further noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on athletes in the past two years, leading many to struggle to perform at top level.

“Let us encourage the athletes, support and pray for them because things have not been easy after these two years.

These competitions are not easy, and many athletes have been struggling to train and prepare for events of such magnitude.

Remember, during Covid, we even had to close the camps, and this affected training because they struggled to train alone,” he said.

Tuwei said Athletics Kenya will continue to work with NOC-K to provide athletes with the right environment and support to succeed.

-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Birmingham, United Kingdom-

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