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Kenya underrated opposition in 800m at Worlds

15 August 2013, 16:11

Nairobi - Kenya's Olympic champion David Rudisha's coach Colm O'Connell said Wednesday Kenyan athletes in 800m at the World Championships underrated the caliber of opposition and were punished for that.

For the first time in over 15 years, Kenya found itself locked out of the finals of the World Championships in the two-lap race when Africa silver medallist Anthony Chemut, Ferguson Rotich and Jeremiah Mutai failed to make the finals.

"These athletes are promising. They lack experience, but for a moment, they underrated the opposition. Every race is run differently and they need to focus and treat each rival as an equal," said O'Connell in Iten.

Though Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat has come out to defend the country selection, the realization that there was nobody to challenge eventual winner Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia in the finals is leaving many asking question on what went through in picking the trio.

First sign that the team was not up to task was raised by Olympic 800m bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, who said, it would be a struggle for Kenya to retain two-lap race title, weeks before the team left for Moscow.

Without defending champion David Rudisha or himself, Kenya team was exposed to the bare threat and lacked the steel on which the silk of Africa silver medallist Chemut, Rotich and Mutai would be wrapped.

"It was bad that I never made the team," said Kitum. "Kenyan trials is not a complete reflection of one's ability but we have to accept that it is the way the country will always select its national team.

"I failed to make the cut and that is it, I can't blame anyone. But looking at the team we have, it leaves a lot to be desired. They are inexperienced and have no record to prove. I see them struggling to make an impact in Moscow," Kitum said two weeks ago.

Rudisha missed the World Championships because of a knee injury. He felt pain in his right knee at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York in May.

Rudisha's coach, Colm O'Connell, revealed the injury occurred several weeks before New York race.

After Rudisha, it's was 1500m Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria who is also the Africa 800m champion, who pulled out from Moscow World Championships, unable to get back to top shape following an illness sustained in June.

Then came the announcement that Botswana's Olympic 800m silver medalist Nijel Amos was also out injured. It left the race open for any pretender to the throne and it was World Indoor champion Mohammed Aman who won.

"But it is wrong to rule out these three Kenyans, who were in Moscow. They will return stronger and surprise many in future.

"Who remembers that Rudisha failed to qualify for the finals in Berlin in 2009. Of course people have forgotten that because of the success he has had so far. It is the same case with Chemut or Rotich. They will return stronger and provide the competition," said O'Connell.

- Xinhua

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