The Olympic Trials
On Saturday, at the end of 3 intense days of trials, Athletics Kenya unveiled its Tokyo Olympics squad with a list of more than 40 athletes. And oh boy, what a team.
There were two big shockers: 1,500m world champion Timothy Cheruiyot and defending Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto after both failed to win their trials. Cheruiyot especially has been dominant at the 1,500m on the global stage, and his close 4th place finish had many convinced that he would be selected on merit. Instead he’ll be watching from home.
Here are what we saw as some of the most exciting stories of the trials:
Kenya is of course famed for distance running. But the men’s 100 turned out to be one of the most exciting events. It began with three (3!!!) false starts and 2 Uganda athletes being disqualified. When they finally got to run, Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa and Mark Otieno Odhiambo were neck and neck the whole way, finishing with a new national record of 10.02 and 10.05 respectively. Here’s the replay.
Ferdinand’s place on the team had been in doubt as he previously had been suspended for doping, but as his sentence is over he’s got his place on the team.
Timothy Cheruiyot has been the biggest name in men’s 1,500m for a few years, and as the reigning world champion, it seemed assured he’d be going for Olympic gold too. But in an intense race he was outkicked by Charles Simotwo, Kamar Etyang, and Abel Kipsang.
At the last Olympics the men’s 1,500m was a very tactical race, that came down entirely to the kick at the end. Cheruiyot has change the nature of the event since then with his dominant front running performances. So certainly this will be a different Olympics than we were expecting.
As reigning two time world champion, Hellen Obiri is queen of the 5,000m. So it was quite the surprise to see Lilian Kasait step up and win the women’s 5,000m at trails. In the final lap Kasait kicked hard and Obiri was just a few steps behind her. But Obiri could never close the gap, and Kasait took it in a blistering finish. Check out that replay here.
Though another sponsor offered him more than we could afford, we still love to cheer on Daniel Simui. He came 2nd in the 5,000m and is on the team. He was heartbroken in 2019 as he qualified for the World Championships, but wasn’t able to go as he didn’t have enough of a history of out of competition drug testing. Now that he’s made a name for himself, he’s got the testing record and is on his way to the world stage. Congratulations Daniel!
After already running a hard 5,000m, Hellen Obiri turned around and ran the 10,000m. For any other runner, it would be insane. But Obiri is a singular talent.
She went went out hard and owned the race, smashing her own Kenyan all comers' record to win in 30:53:60. The 2017 world cross-country champion Irene Cheptai (31:06:86) followed in second.
So Obiri will be doing the 5,000m & 10,000m double at the Olympics. An incredible challenge, but if anyone can do it, she’s the one.
Geoffrey Kamworor has been recovering from the injuries he sustained having been hit by a motorcycle while training last year. So he wanted to let everyone know he’s back by winning the men’s 10,000m in emphatic fashion.
He did just that by clocking an all-comers' record of 27:01.06. Watching the replay, it seems like he could have gone faster if he weren’t dodging all the athletes he was lapping.
Here’s the team who will be representing Kenya on the track and on the roads:
Men's - Ferdinand Omanyala Omurwa, Mark Otieno Odhiambo
Women's: Hellen Syombua Kalii
Men's: Emmanuel Korir
Men's : Moitalel Mpoke
Women's: Eunice Jepkoech Sum, Emily Cherotich Tuei, Mary Moraa
Men's: Michael Saruni, Emmanuel Korir, Ferguson Rotich
Women's: Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Winny Chebet
Men's: Charles Simotwo, Kamar Etyang, Abel Kipsang
Women's: Beatrice Chepkoech, Hyvin Kiyeng, Purity Cherotich
Men's:: Abraham Kibiwott, Leonard Bett, Benjamin Kigen
Women's: Lilian Kasait, Hellen Obiri, Agnes Jebet Tirop
Men's: Nicholas Kimeli, Daniel Simui, Samuel Chebole
Women's : Hellen Obiri, Irene Cheptai, Sheila Chelangat
Men's: Geoffrey Kamworor, Rodgers Kwemoi, Weldon Kipkurui Langat
Jumps / field
Men's high jump: Mathew Sawe
Men's javelin throw: Julius Yego
20km race walk:
Women's: Emily Ngii
Men's: Samuel Gathimba
Women's team: Ruth Chepngetich, Bridget Kosgei, Peres Chepchirchir
Men's team: Eliud Kipchoge, Amos Kipruto, Lawrence Cherono
On Father’s day, Usain Bolt announced the names of his new twin sons: Saint Leo and Thunder. He now has 3 children with his partner Kasi Bennett, their eldest Olympia Lightning being born May 2020.
Okagbare Runs Wind-Assisted 10.63 100m in Lagos
Blessing Okagbare added another impressive result to what has become a superb sprint season for her, clocking 10.63 for 100m at the Nigerian Championships in Lagos on Thursday (17 June).
Only world record-holder Florence Griffith Joyner has ever gone quicker, while Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also ran 10.63 in Kingston just earlier this month.
Okagbare fell to the track in delight when she saw her time. The Olympic and world medallist had earlier clocked 10.99 in the semifinals and ran 10.90 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Doha at the end of last month.
'Run - The Athlete Refugee Team Story'
Three years in the making and released in 2020, the feature-length documentary (93 minutes) by director Richard Bullock shares the incredible and inspirational story of the Athlete Refugee Team (ART).
It portrays their journey from its formal beginnings in early 2017 through the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year that halted, albeit temporarily, their seemingly impossible journey towards the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The film shares personal moments that illustrate the challenges and the difficult choices the athletes face, both in and out of training and competition and when showing the importance the athletes place on representing the faceless millions around the world that are currently displaced in unprecedented numbers.
From The Enda Community
Enda McEvoy (what a great name!) just completed Ray's Marathon Challenge, running the equivalent distance of 52 marathons, wearing his green Enda Itens. The challenge was organized to raise funds for LauraLynn Children’s Hospice based in Ireland.
Underneath all our shoes, we’ve engraved the word “Harambee.” If you are wondering what the “Harambee” spirit is all about, this is it. The spirit of lifting up each other to achieve things we wouldn’t easily achieve individually. If you want live that Harambee spirit and support Enda McEvoy’s efforts, you can chip in here.