What was that poorly scripted show that Athletics Kenya (AK) attempted to stage last week at the Nyayo National Stadium in the name of national trials for the World Youth Championships?
From claims of age cheating to controversial selection criteria that denied some athletes who had attained qualification marks a chance to represent the country next month in Ukraine, the whole thing was one big charade.
So ridiculous was ‘show’ that at one point, a busted age cheat mumbled some inaudible incoherencies in an attempt to state his date of birth infront of cameras.
But the climax of this ‘comedy of errors’ was when AK’s youth sub-committee sidelined four athletes who had attained the World Youth qualifying times from their final team of 20 athletes for reasons only best known to them.
The sight of men’s 400m hurdler Geoffrey Kipkoech blubbering and weeping uncontrollably while lying prostrate on Nyayo Stadium’s tartan track was indeed a heartrending spectacle.
While AK is yet to give an explanation of how ineligible athletes sneaked their way to the starting line with forged birth certificates, the reason they have proffered for excluding Kipkoech and three others sprinters was a tad too wishy-washy.
For one, I don’t buy the idea that selectors must give priority to ‘medal prospects’ at the expense of athletes competing in events that are traditionally not Kenya’s forte.
How do we expect to extend our dominance from the middle and long distance races to the sprints if we don’t give these youngsters an opportunity to compete at the very highest level?
Secondly, AK’s explanation that they had exceeded their ‘allocated quota’ of 20 athletes from the IAAF begs the question; why then did they invite so many competitors in different events in the full knowledge that theirs was a limited quota?
What strikes me as odd is the casual manner with which AK has treated this whole fiasco. The London 2012 debacle came in the backdrop of similar farcical circumstances.
But Kenyans are a people well known for their short memories. We shall resort to the usual blame games if our youngsters (God forbid) fail to deliver the gold medals from Ukraine next month.