Saturday, 16 July 2016

Should Kenya's athletics national trials be done in Eldoret again?

Men 3000m SC race at Kenya's Olympic trials in Eldoret

Should the trials be done again in Eldoret? The answer will depend on who you are asking the question. For fans, it definitely will be a yes. For press, it will be no given that they had to work in a small confined space in the open hot sun without a shade. It was far from what they are used to in Nairobi where they would have a press room complete with free internet, free lunch and computers to use. For athletes, it will be a no for others and a yes for others. For people who double up as press, athletes and fans at the same time, like me, it will be a yes.
These were the outstanding moments:
1. Gates were closed since all the fans who turned up could not fit in the stadium
Fans lined up in long queues to enter the stadium more than one hour before the first event on the second day of the Olympic trials began. Everyone wanted to get in first to get a vantage position in the stadium,
but still the lines were orderly. However, the stadium later got filled up with fans and the gates had to be closed. In a scenario that would be typical to many in stadium, my wife and daughter left their water bottles in the car hoping to get out at some point to get them, but they could not be allowed to get out. But, luckily for them, one security officer noticed my daughter was getting affected by being in the crowd in the open sun and they let them into the track where ambulances were stationed and they were given some water and got to use the shade of the vehicles as they watched the rest of the events.
Even at the gate used only by the press, race officials and elite athletes, I tried to get out but was told, by the security officials, that I should not be guaranteed of getting back into the stadium due to the crowds outside wanting to get in too. So, I had to stay inside the stadium the whole day.
2. Fans showed exceptional patience and order in and out of the stadium.
Even while others were cheering wildly inside the stadium as the first events of the day were underway, those in the long queues outside kept waiting for their turn to be screened by security officials before entering in. It would have been impossible for officials to manage such big crowds had they not been self-disciplined.
All fans entered into the stadium through one gate, which was a very tiring work for the security officials checking all of them.
3. The men's 800m was covered for live TV from aerial view.
Fans who could not get into the stadium reported that the men's 800m event was very exciting to watch live on TV. "It was particularly thrilling watching the athletes leaving their lanes after the first 150m and also towards the end of the race when Rudisha was trying to fight back after getting boxed in lane one, moving out to lane three and getting to the third position just at the right time to make the team," said one of the fans when I met him the following day after the trials.
Many races shown from aerial view on TV have mostly been the major marathons, so the 800m race was one special moment at the Kenyan Olympic trials.
4. The high altitude was tough for athletes in the long distance events
Surprises, casualties and disappointments happened in both the men and women 10,000m events. On the women's event a number of competitors dropped out of the race, notable one being Irene Cheptai who collapsed with a few laps to the end of the race having been in second position for most of the late stages of the race.
Charles Yosei surprised many in the men's 10,000m event by taking second after the pre race favorites; Bedan Karoki and Geoffrey Kamworor had to step out at different points of the race.
5. The great cheering by fans was welcomed and made the event more exciting.
Most athletes praised and acknowledged the fans after their races. Caleb Ndiku said he was encouraged by the cheering and concluded the fans are actually the reason why he was running since without them running would not be exciting. Asbel Kiprop on the other hand said that he realized that he was not the only one who needed the win, but that he had many fans who wanted him to win as much as he himself wanted it and that his victory was a victory for many.