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FILE: Kenya, preview of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, results of the Kenya Track and Field Trials on June 17. Margaret Chelimo (bottom) lays on the track after competing in the 5000M women finals race during the trials for the Tokyo Olympic games at the Kasarani stadium in Nairobi on June 17, 2021./CFP

Kenyan trials for African Games hit by athlete protests

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The Kenyan national trials for the African Games were delayed Tuesday morning after athletes staged an on-field protest against the selection format for the continental event.

Athletes were disappointed to learn that their quota for the Games had been halved, with only 30 places up for grabs – down 31 slots from the figure that represented Kenya the previous edition.

The reduced number meant only one athlete would qualify from each event, much to the despondency of competitors who said they had invested so much effort in training.

They demanded two extra slots for each discipline as is usually the case during national trials for major championships, a scenario that would open more chances for younger athletes to compete at international level.

The trials proceeded later afternoon with the Athletics Kenya (AK) saying in a statement that an understanding had been reached.

“We note that a number of athletes expressed their concerns relating to the limited number of slots available to athletes for selection. The morning session delayed as we sought to address the issue.

“We are pleased to note that following AK consultation with the Ministry of Sports, the number of slots available shall be increased subject to athletes meeting the qualification criteria for the games,” the statement reads.

The AK added its technical team would work closely with the athletes during the trials to achieve ‘the objective of selecting Team Kenya as required’.

The Games will be staged in Accra, Ghana and will run from March 8th-23rd. They were originally scheduled to start in August 2023 but were postponed because of a disagreement over marketing rights.

Athletes representing Kenya during the previous African Games in Rabat, Morocco won 31 medals (11 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze) and the country finished 7th in the medal table.

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