Kipketer, Rotich, Koech, Muneria, and Aprot earn selection for Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games

By finishing in the top-2 of their respective event finals at the Kenyan Athletics Olympic Trials held in Eldoret on 30 June & 1 July, Alfred Kipketer (800m), Ferguson Rotich (800m), Isaiah Koech (5000m), and Charles Muneria (10000m) gained automatic berths to the 2016 Olympic Games. Alice Aprot (10000m) also was selected at-large to represent Kenya at the Rio Games.

In the 800m, Alfred Kipketer and Ferguson Rotich each won their opening round heats to advance to the final, where they in dominating fashion swept the top 2 auto-qualifying spots with times of 1:43.73 and 1:44.05, respectively, ahead of defending Olympic Champion and 800m world record holder, David Rudisha (1:44.23).  Kipketer’s winning time established a new personal best, while Rotich’s time was a season best, moving them to 5th-6th on this season’s 800m world list.

In a tactical and slow 5000m final, Isaiah Kiplangat Koech took 2nd place, losing narrowly to pre-race favorite Caleb Nidiku by a 13:37.2 to 13.37.6 margin.  Rio will be the sixth time for Koech to represent Kenya in a global senior championships event, which include the 2012 London Games; the IAAF WC in Daegu (2011), Moscow (2013), and Beijing (2015); and the IAAF Indoor WC in Portland (2016), highlighted by his bronze medal in the Moscow WC 5000m.

In the 10000m final, Personae team newcomer and previously unheralded Charles Yosey Mneria produced one of the biggest surprises of the trials, setting a personal best of 27:57.07 to finish 2nd behind 3-time world championship medalist in the 10000m and cross country, Paul Tanui (27:46.15).

Finally, Alice Aprot Nawowuna was selected at-large for the Kenyan Olympic team in the 10000m, based on her so-far undefeated 2016 season in which she has won national and African titles in both cross country and 10000m on the track.  In her African title performance at 10000m in Durban, Aprot set a personal best time of 30:26.94 that currently ranks her 2nd on the 10000m world chart for 2016, while also moving her to 3rd on the Kenya all-time performers listing for the event.

The athletics program at the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games will run from 12 August through 21 August.

The picture is from the finish of the men’s 800m final in Eldoret, featuring Alfred Kipketer (bib 080) and Ferguson Rotich (immediately behind Kipketer) in the center. David Rudisha is on the far left (bib 083). Picture credit: Reuters (Athletics Kenya twitter account).

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