ATHLETICS Kenya (AK) has reduced the national athletics champions set for this weekend to a two-day affair and not three as earlier announced. The event, which has also been switched from the traditional Nyayo Stadium to Kasarani, will take place on Thursday and Friday this week. The change of dates has been necessitated by the burial of the late Internal Security minister Prof. George Saitoti and his deputy Hon. Joshua Orwa Ojode, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday respectively. AK chairman said the move is aimed at joining the rest of Kenyans in giving the last respects to the departed ministers and the other four Kenyan who perished in the helicopter crash at Kibiku forest near Ngong town.
On the venue change, Kiplagat said athletes taking part in the championships prefer the newly laid and softer Kasarani running track. He said among the highlights of the event is the 2012 London Olympics 10,000m women's trials set for Friday. The first three athletes in the event will be enlisted for the London Games while positions four, five and six will represent the country at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships set for between June 27 to July 1 in Porto Novo, Benin.
The AK boss said it is mandatory for all athletes eyeing positions in the Kenyan team to Benin to take part in the championship, and failure to do so will result in a blockade. "All top athletes must take part in the championships since we do not have any other time (to select our team)," said Kiplagat. He said the hosting of the 10,000m women's trials will give an opportunity to the athletes who want to double up with the 5000m, whose trials will be done a week later. "We want to give opportunity to those who want to double up. We want to give every athlete a chance," said Kiplagat.
At the same time, Kiplagat announced that due to the large number of athletes who have qualified for London in the men's 800m, 1,500m, 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m, AK will on June 21 hold a mini trial ahead of the national trials proper on June 23 at the Nyayo Stadium. Apart from this, Kiplagat said, all other preparations for the national championships and national trials are complete and they expect smooth events.