Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gloomy welcome as downcast Kenyan athletes return from London Games

Pamela Jelimo and a competitor
Aug. 15 (Xinhua)-- Kenya's team returned from London Olympic Games on Wednesday downcast over a poor performance that saw it finish in position 28 with just 11 medals.

The team arrived in Nairobi without the Men's 800m World Record Holder David Rudisha who together with  Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego and other elite runners opted to remain in Europe for the  Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Friday. However, Olympic marathon silver medallist Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang, the bronze medal winner, Timothy Kitum, 800m bronze medallist and World Indoor 800m champion Pamela Jelimo were received in the morning as they returned the flag to the country."It was a nice experience to compete at the Olympics. We did not do what many expected, but this is sports where we have competition and the best prepared will always emerge victorious," said Jelimo, the team captain who wound up fourth in the 800m distance.

Head coach of athletics Julius Kirwa was categorical, poor planning by the management and lack of coordination was to blame for the dismal show in London Games. "We did what we could on the training ground. The athletes were all focused, but the constant disturbance and interruption of camp by National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) officials was to blame," he said.  "They did not have a concrete plan. We were not given what we wanted to help in training. How do you expect good results and you have done little to help in the development and preparation of these athletes?" said Kirwa.

From a robust 14 medals haul in Beijing - six golds, four silvers and four bronzes - four years ago, Kenya were only good to pick two gold in 800m and 3,000m steeplechase. There was also four silver and six bronze medals. However, Nock chairman Kipchoge Keino, asked for patience as a post-mortem on the games is conducted to know who is to blame for the dismal show."The youths of this country always come first. We need to help them. The team in London did well. The competition was tough, but generally we tried. We have 11 medals and we should learn to appreciate that when things do not go our way, we move to address it," he said. "Now we need to sit down and draw a plan on how to revamp our participation. Olympics is beyond track and field and that is where we have not done well," he said.

Apart from Athletics team manager Joseph Kinyua, there was no official from Athletics Kenya to receive the team. This was a clash of interest between AK and Nock over the management and training program of the team prior to the Olympics. This spilled over in London with each camp accusing the other of sabotage. Kenya had its main hopes in track and field, where it had 51 athletes while boxing (two), weight lifting (one) and swimming (two) were the supplementary disciplines.They all failed to make it to the finals of their respective categories leaving just track and field as Kenya's sole medal contributor in the Games. (Xinhua)

2. NAIROBI, Kenya: Jelimo blames poor tactics for dismal show in London

Aug. 15 (Xinhua)-- Kenya's Pamela Jelimo has admitted bungling her Olympics title defense last Saturday when Russian Mariya Saminova ended her reign as women 800m crown holder in London.

Jelimo who became the first woman from Kenya to win an Olympics track title in Beijing four years ago is now focused on redeeming the loss at the Moscow World Championships next year."I cannot say I was not in good shape but I did a small mistake that cost me in the final. I still believe that I will do much better next time starting the World Championships," Jelimo told reporters when the team arrived in Nairobi from London on Wednesday.

The World Indoor gold medallist who ran 1:57.59 for fourth in the London 2012 medal race took off for the line with 350m to go against the advice of the coaches who had signalled her to sprint for the line with 200meters left.  "You could see she was tired at the finish since we had planned that she should stick behind Janeth Jepkosgei whom we had asked to go through the first lap in 56 seconds which she did,"athletics head coach, Julius Kirwa, disclosed. "We wanted her to kick from the final curve but she still managed to run a good time despite missing on the gold," Kirwa added.

Jelimo who had the added responsibility of being the assistant captain for Team Kenya in London called upon her compatriots to spare the team round criticism for their performance that fell well short of emulating the Beijing tally of six golds, four silvers and four bronzes. "I was in the World Indoor Championships and I did Kenya proud by winning the first indoor title and I believe we shall come back. Everyone did their best and we were expecting many medals and it does not mean that because we did not get them, we are the same people that will do great for this country," Jelimo implored.

Jelimo's title was one of the four Kenya ceded at London with the country's runners failing to hold on to both men's and women's 1500m titles and the men's marathon that went to Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich as they returned two golds, five silvers and four bronzes. "I cannot say that we were mistreated as a team but we must learn how to listen and work with our coaches in future. I know I have to draw my plans early so that I do well at the World Championships next year," the Beijing champion said.

Jelimo will only take a short break before returning to competition at the Lausanne, Birmingham and Brussels legs of Diamond League where she is aiming to bag her first circuit title since she blew all competition to lift the last IAAF Golden League crown in her breakthrough 2008 season. "Even if it does not make up for the Olympics, winning the Diamond League will be a huge honor and motivation for me. What remains is to keep in focus and shape so that I can be competitive by the time the next Olympics come in four years," she asserted.

After Savinova caught up with her at the homestretch, South Africa's Caster Semenya and another Russian Ekaterina Poistogova went past her to lock her out of the podium, the first time that has happened to her in a final since she launched her career.Jelimo hauled herself from three years of ignominy occasioned by injury and lack of confidence to qualify for London Olympics in June as a winner of the Kenyan Trials.  (Xinhua)

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