Kenya’s athletes left for London’s World Championships on Tuesday, their hopes for domination battered by the last-minute withdrawal of 800m Olympic champion David Rudisha with a quad injury.
Olympic 3,000m steeplechase runner Conseslus Kipruto aims to add a world title to the gold he won in Rio in 2016 — and three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop has vowed to retain his crown.
Rudisha’s torn muscle robbed him of the chance to go for a third world title and gave his team a steeper climb up the medals table, which it topped in Beijing two years ago. "We cannot be overconfident, even if we have such a good team," head coach Julius Kirwa said.
He has good reason to be cautious, given the political and legal distractions around the team in recent months. Its participation in London was cleared when officials finally filed paperwork showing it had met International Association of Athletics Federations antidoping conditions, after missing two previous deadlines.
Kenya’s reputation for middle-and long-distance running has been tarnished by failed doping tests among elite athletes including former three-time Boston and Chicago marathon winner, Rita Jeptoo, and Jemimah Sumgong, the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic marathon gold medal.
With the paperwork filed, attention has switched back to the 48-strong team.
"As Olympic champion, this is what I have been waiting for. I would wish to be crowned a world champion," 22-year-old Kipruto said. He will be up against compatriot and two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi.