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Big names make up Kenya's Olympic squad

06-25-2012 02:00 BJT Special Report: 2012 London Olympic Games |

To some sporting news now and Kenya will be defending six titles in athletics at this year's Olympic Games in London. The selected team features global heavyweights such as World 800m record holder David Rudisha, 5,000 and 10,000m World Champion Vivian Cheruiyot and 1,500 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop.

Expectations of podium finishes are definitely high, in line with the country's past performance. Celestine Karoney takes a look at Kenya's Olympic squad.

At first glance one can assume this is the curtain call to a major international event, after all some of the world's best middle and long distance athletes were assembled here their mission, a ticket to London.

But this man was the star attraction for the over 15,000 fans who attended the Kenyan Olympic trials World record holder David Rudisha. Rudisha did deliver, setting the fastest 800m time in altitude when he won in 1:42.12 seconds. He is joined in the 800m team by Timothy Kitum and Anthony Chemut.

David Rudisha said, "I always want to deliver something special at home because of the fans. I am optimistic that I will do well in London and even break the world record again." While a world record attempt could be hard to attain without a pacemaker at the games Rudisha's focus will be on winning the only gold medal missing from his collection.

Rudisha who will also contest the 4*400m event, a race in which his father won a silver medal during the 1988 games is least concerned about pretenders to his throne. "I am still setting the fastest times to they still have a long way to go maybe not just yet."

Double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot completed her quest to qualify for both the 5,000 and 10,000m events with Sally Kipyego also expected to double after finishing behind Vivian in the 5,000m team to book a ticket.

Vivian Cheruiyot said, "In the past Kenyan women have felt inferior to Ethiopians but now we know we can match them." Defending champion in the 1500m Asbel Kiprop qualified third in his race with Nixon Chepseba and Commonwealth champion Silas Kiplagat completing the trio. The three are currently the world's best athletes over the distance with many feeling the gold tussle in London will be a matter of who, among the Kenyans will triumph.

Asbel Kiprop said, "We have sent a message to the world that Kenya is bringing the world leaders to the games and so we must work hard to meet expectation." 1500m women's defending champion Nancy Jebet Lagat failed to make the team after skipping the trials.

Jebet and Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist, Samuel Wanjiru who met his death in tragic circumstances last year, will be the only defending champions absent from the Kenyan squad.

Wilson Kipsang said, "We hope to defend Wanjiru's title for him we cannot let it go and we will be going for a clean sweep" For 800m defending champion Pamela Jelimo, four years out in the athletics cold has seen a return to her winning ways this year and is optimistic after winning the national trials.

Pamela Jelimo said, "Many thought Jelimo was done but I am back now and ready to show Kenyans what I can do." Abel Mutai joins defending champion Brimin Kipruto and world champion Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3,000m steeplechase. Kenya has won the water and hurdle event since 1968 games at the Olympics and Kemboi who seemed to be practicing his victory jig for the games after finishing second in the trials played down Kenya's favorite status.

Ezekiel Kemboi said, "Everyone is a favorite so it's a matter of how do we train to win the title" At 18, junior athlete faith is the youngest member of the 30 plus team that will represent Kenya at the games in London.

Many athletes equate the Kenya’s Olympic trials to a major international final and so for the team selected to represent the country at the Olympics, expectations will be high that they can match the 2008 performance of 14 medals or even yet better it.

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Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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