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Kenya to shrug off London disappointment in Rio - head coach

20 July 2016, 14:41

Nairobi - (Reuters) Head coach Julius Kirwa would not hazard a guess how many medals Kenyan athletes will win at next month's Rio Olympics but is confident the nation, renowned for its distance runners, can shrugg off the disappointment of London Games four years ago.

Kirwa had predicted 12 gold medals at London but Kenya finished a poor 28th in the Games, with 11 medals that included two gold, four silver and five bronze medals.

"I won't say how many medals we are going to win in Rio, but it will definitely be more than what we won in London," Kirwa told Reuters at the team's residential camp in this north Rift Valley town.

Kirwa said Olympic 800 metres champion David Rudisha's world leading 1:43.35 victory at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial Meeting in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on Monday augured well for the team.

"He will retain the title. I have trained with him since we selected him and he has improved a lot.

"His victory in Hungary has cheered us up," Kirwa said of the world record holder who finished third at the Kenyan trials, barely making it to the Olympic team behind less-known Alfred Kipketer and the season's sensation, Ferguson Rotich.

Kirwa also announced that he had switched Japan-based Charles Yossei, who was second in 10,000m at the trials to 5,000m where he joins Commonwealth Games champion and world silver medalist Caleb Mwangangi and 2013 world bronze medalist, Isaiah Kiplangat.

"I have retained (Paul) Tanui, Bedan (Karoki) and (Geoffrey) Kamworor in 10,000m because they are the most experienced in that race and have been training together," he said.

Kamworor and Karoki, world half-marathon gold and silver medalists, did not finish the race at the trials.

The trio lost to Briton Mo Farah at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships and Kirwa played down suggestion that they were mature enough to beat the British double Olympic champion.

"Our preparation for the Games are not based on an individual. Another totally different one may emerge. In any case, we are going for war. And when preparing for war, you don't know whether you will be ambushed or survive," he said.

An unwelcome distraction for the athletes has been the arrest of Italian manager Federico Rosa and coach Claudio Berrardeli, who were interrogated by police on doping matters.

Kirwa said they are ready to replace any athlete who wished to pull out over the incident.

"There are many Kenyans and if some athletes feel aggrieved and wants to pull out because of the arrests, we are ready to make that decision (replace them) at that moment. So far, none has indicated his or her withdrawal." 

- Reuters


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