By Isaack Omulo
ELDORET, Kenya, July 1 (Reuters) – Olympic and world 800m champion David Rudisha scraped into the Kenyan team for the Rio Olympics after finishing third in the east African nation’s trials on Friday.
Rudisha, enduring a poor season, was passed on the final bend by youngster Ferguson Rotich and surprise winner Alfred Kipketer.
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Rudisha, also the world record holder, finished third in 1:44.23 after getting boxed in. Kipketer's time was 1:43.73 and Rotich ran 1:44.05.
“My plan was to run from behind but I was caught on the back stretch and boxed in," Rudisha told reporters. "I was only able to come up in the last 150 meters and kicked to make the team.”
Rudisha has had a poor season by his standards after winning the world title last year.
“To make the team was the most important thing today," he said. "More so, after the semi-final race took a lot of energy from me yesterday. I have nothing to complain about.
“I feel that my body is coming back pretty nicely and I am in better form than last year. I am focused and determined to defend my title,”
World half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki were named in the Olympic team at 10,000 meters despite both failing to finish the race at the trials. Kamworor had a stomach upset and Karoki was injured.
Paul Tanui won the race ahead of Charles Yossei and both were named in the team for Rio.
World 400 meters hurdles champion Nicholas Bett, who did not run in the trials, was also named in the Games team along withAfrican champion Boniface Mucheru.
The second and final day of the trials produced other upsets.
Former world 800m champion Eunice Sum was beaten into second place by Margaret Nyairera to second place with the winner timing 1:58.27 and Sum 1:59.63.
Defending Olympic 3,000 meters steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi toyed with the field, deliberately slowing down as he approached the finish line and allowing 2008 Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto and Conseslus Kipruto to pass him.
World javelin champion Julius Yego produced a throw of 81.04 meters to win the event.
Kenyan Olympic athletics team:
WOMEN:400 meters hurdles: Maureen Jelagat400 meters: Margaret Nyairera, Maureen Jelagat800 meters: Margeret Nyairera, Eunice Sum, Winnie Chebet1,500 meters: Faith Chemngetich, Nancy Chepkwemoi, Viola Cheptoo Lagat
3,000M steeplechase: Hyvin Kiyeng, Beatrice Chepkoech, Lydia Rotich Chebet
5,000 meters: Vivian Jepkemei Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri, Mercy Cherono
10,000 meters: Vivian Jepkemei Cheruiyot, Betsy Saina, Alice AprotMarathon: Jemima Sumgong, Visline Jepkesho, Hellah Kiprop.20 kilometers walk: Grace Wanjiru.
MEN: 200 meters: Kevin Nkanata, Mike Mokamba400 meters Hurdles: Nicholas Bett, Boniface Mucheru, Aron Koech400 meters: Alphas Kishoyan, Raymond Kibet, Alex Sampao, Boniface Mweresa800 meters: Alfred Kipketer, Ferguson Rotich, David Rudisha1,500m: Asbel Kiprop, Elijah Manangoi, Ronald Kwemoi3,000m steeplechase: Brimin Kipruto, Conseslus Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi5,000m: Caleb Ndiku Mwangangi, Isaiah Kiplangat10,000m: Paul Tanui, Charles Yossei, Bedan Karoki, Geoffrey KamwororMarathon: Eliud Kipchoge, Stanley Biwott, Wesley KorirJavelin: Julius Yego20 kilometers walk: Samuel Gathimba, Simon WachiraHigh Jump: Mathew Sawe.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)