By Isaack Omulo
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Controversy flared on Friday over the composition of the Kenyan men’s 800m line-up for next month’s World Championships in London after U.S.-based Michael Saruni, who was third at the trials, was dropped.
Saruni was third behind winner Emmanuel Korir and Kipyegon Bett. But two-time Olympics champion David Rudisha, who missed the East African nation’s trials last month, and Fergusson Rotich, who was fourth at the trials, automatically qualified for the 800m team for the Aug. 4-12 championships.
Saruni was relegated to the 4x400m relay team, much to the chagrin of Paul Ereng, his coach at the University of Texas El Paso and the 1988 Olympics 800m champion.
“I am furious. It shows the unchanging bad management in Kenyan athletics, which goes back years. There is no reason why Kenya should field two wild cards. Kenya is flouting rules to suit selfish interests,” Ereng told Reuters on Friday.
“Rudisha and Rotich have not won any race this season. Saruni beat Rotich in the trials and I wonder why they should drop Saruni. Why should we have trials and not stick to the results? Saruni has not qualified in 400m and I don’t know what they will do if he does not perform,” said Ereng.
Paul Mutwii, Athletics Kenya (AK) Senior Vice President in charge of competitions, said Rudisha was the defending champion while Rotich was the Diamond League winner, hence they qualified for London as wild cards. Referring to Saruni, he added: “He is still a young athlete with huge potential in future. We are certain the team will do well in London.”
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)