Tomorrow will see the start of the 2013 IAAF World Championships, when the eyes of the athletics world will descend upon Moscow. One of two medal events on the first day is the Women’s marathon, and most punters would expect Kenya to be challenging for the medals after their podium clean sweep at Daegu in 2011. Before the starters gun has gone off we can say with certainty that there will be no Kenyan clean sweep this year.
Such a claim is not a prediction on form or a preference for runners from rival Ethiopia (although they will certainly be a factor) but rather it is a sad statement of fact with news that Kenya has right royally stuffed up the logistics of getting to Moscow, meaning two of their four competitors will toe the line.
The Kenyan Daily Nation reported that defending champion Edna Kiplagat and Lucy Kabuu will be the only two starters after Team Kenya’s flight to Moscow on Monday afternoon was cancelled due to lack of jet fuel and bizarre decisions saw half the squad not make the onward flight to Russia.
Valentine Kipketer was left behind when the team left on Tuesday morning, while Margaret Akai was secretly axed from the team owing to an injury. Kipketer was left stranded, with no official from Athletics Kenya to sort out her travel issues as most of them had travelled to Moscow.
Kipketer, winner of the 2013 Mumbai Marathon in 2hrs, 24:20min, was left asleep at the Laico Regency Hotel when the team departed on Tuesday morning and was hoping to catch a flight to Moscow on Wednesday night.
However, the fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Wednesday morning left her stranded after all the incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled. Kipketer was eagerly awaiting communication from Emirate Airlines regarding her next flight.
What makes the decision even stranger is the pressure the Kenyan athletes are feeling to set the tone early and overcome the perceived failures from the 2012 London Olympics. Lucy Kabuu had earlier said to media that“It’s not just for the fact that we are under pressure to retain the title. I believe victory will set the ambience for the rest. It’s important that, being the openers, we do just that.”
The path to redemption just got that bit harder for the Kenyan powerhouse.
UPDATE: KIPKETER DID EVENTUALLY GET TO MOSCOW AND TOED THE STARTING LINE.
The Kenyan men’s team is set to fly to Moscow next Tuesday.