Top athletes out as Kenyan relay team heads to Poland
Kenya’s fastest 400m sprinters this season, Zablon Ekwam and Hellen Syombua, are out of the team that is due to leave Tuesday night for this weekend's World Relay Championships in Silesia, Poland.
Athletics Kenya director for competitions, Paul Mutwii, said the two were among six athletes and two officials left out due to various reasons including unavailability and medical.
Other athletes dropped are United States-based Emmanuel Korir, Emmanuel Mutua, Kipkorir Rotich and Evangeline Makena, alongside head coach Steven Mwaniki and one of his deputies Geoffrey Macharia.
“It’s quite unfortunate we have to leave them behind,” said Mutwii, who was quick to assure the country that the remaining athletes are strong enough to post the much desired results.
Ekwam won the first leg of Athletics Kenya Meeting on February 27 in 45.65 seconds, a time that has seen him ranked 34th in the world. Ekwam also won the third leg of the same series on March 6 in 45.97.
Ekwam was to field in the 4x400m team that is now left with Kevin Kiprotich, William Rayan, Daniel Sanayek and Jared Momanyi.
Korir clocked 45.79 to finish fourth in the opening event of the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour last Saturday at Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon, USA. He is placed 46th in World Athletics ranking this season.
Korir, Mutua and Syombua, who is the current national 400m record holder and has season’s best 55.17, were to compete in the 4x400mm mixed relay.
The technical bench will now pick the 4x400m mixed relay team from team captain Aaron Koech, Eglay Nalianya, Sylvia Chesebe, Mary Moraa and Stanley Kieti.
Syombua was part of the 4x400m mixed relay team that claimed the bronze medal from the 2019 Yokohama World Relay Championships, the only medal the country got.
Rotich was to field in the shuttle relay team that remains with Priscilla Tabunda, Vanice Kerubo, Rukia Nasra, Wiseman Were and Michael Musyoka.
Makena was to feature in the women's 4x200m event. She now leaves Maximilla Imali, Doreen Waka, Monica Safania and Susan Nyambura to do battle.
William Murgor now takes over as the head coach from Mwaniki and has Shirley Kalunda and Esther Kavaya as his deputies with Macharia not travelling.
The team of 30 athletes and six officials is set to leave the country at 11.50pm aboard a KLM flight via Amsterdam for the world event.
Kenya’s shuttle team is already in the medal bracket and can only aim for a better medal with only three teams having registered for the event; Kenya, Germany and Poland.
The 4x400m men and women’s teams and 4x400m mixed relay teams have a good chance of making it to the finals with their events starting at the semi-final stages. They only need to reach the final and qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.