Athletics Kenya (AK) have named World 2019 bronze medallist Rhonex Kipruto as Geoffrey Kamworor’s replacement in Kenya’s 10,000 metres team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Kamworor, who sustained an ankle injury in training this week, was a big medal prospect in the team that also has national cross country champion Rodgers Kwemoi and Weldon Kipkirui.
The two left the country last Friday and will be competing in the final on July 30 where Kenya is expected to bag its first medal in athletics.
Kipruto, World Under-20 10,000m champion, withdrew from the Kenyan trials with five laps to go.
General Team Manager for the Tokyo Olympic Games Barnaba Korir said Kipruto has officially joined the team after clearance from World Athletics and necessary paperwork is ongoing.
“We are pleased to announce that Rhonex Kipruto is the latest inclusion to our athletics team for the Tokyo Olympics. He has already reported at Kasarani Stadium where the remaining part of team Kenya are in residential training in a bubble camp.
“The decision was arrived at after AK sought clearance from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on his anti-doping testing status, which I am pleased to say he has been given the green light,” Korir said via his official Facebook page.
Kipruto told Nation Sport that he is happy to get a chance to represent Kenya in what will be his first appearance at the Olympics.
“I’m really sorry for my good friend Kamworor and I want to wish him quick recovery so that he can continue with his career. On my part I’m delighted becaue I will be able to represent my country once again and we will work hard to win something good for our country,” said Kipruto.
He also revealed to Nation Sport that his first Covid-19 test came out negative and he was going to be tested for the second time, a requirement before jetting out for the Games in Tokyo.
“I got the results and they are negative. We are doing another test just to be sure because this is now a requirement before travelling,” said Kipruto.
Kipruto is currently the fastest man in 10km on the road having clocked world record time of 26:24 after lowering Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei’s time of 26:38 in Valencia, Spain in 2020.
The two will clash again when they line up for the 10,000m final on Friday after Cheptegei floored Kipruto during the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar winning gold ahead of Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha who took silver with KIpruto settling for bronze.
“We shall be battling out again with Cheptegei whom we have met in various races. He is a good athlete but I don’t want to say much for now but just to give my best, teamwork will be paramount,” he added.
The 10,000 metres men Olympic gold, has proved elusive since 1968 when Naftali Temu last won the race in Mexico.
Kenya will be seeking to improve on Rio 2016 where Paul Tanui won silver medal behind Great Britain’s Mo Farah who bagged gold in the distance.