All Things Kenyan

Marathoners Denied Olympic Dreams

April 16, 2000, the day before the Boston Marathon was the London Marathon. This was the race that the Kenyan Amateur Athletic Association used for the women’s Olympic qualifier. The Boston Marathon was used for the men’s Olympic qualifier. So, if you were watching the Boston Marathon last April, it was easy to get confused on who was trying out for what. The women who ran the London Marathon were picked for the women’s marathon team were Tegla Loroupe and Joyce Chepchumba. This left a third spot open, a spot possibly for Catherine Ndereba.

Catherine Ndereba won the 2000 Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 11 seconds. She beat out three time winner and Olympic champion Fatima Roba of Ethiopia. Fatima was hoping for a record fourth consecutive win. Catherine clinched that from her in the last few miles of the Boston Marathon.

The KAAA chose Ester Wanjiru who came in third place in Osaka at 2:23:31. Ester’s time was three minutes faster than Catherine’s Boston Marathon time, however the marathon at Osaka is a flat, fast race and the weather conditions were good the day of the race in January. Whereas, the conditions at the Boston Marathon was a temperature of 44 degrees with winds of 13 mph blowing in the faces of the runners. My opinion is that Catherine ran a better race.

Catherine is now an alternate for the Kenyan women’s marathon team for the 2000 Olympics to be held in Sydney, Australia. I hope we will see her in many more marathons and in the 2004 Olympics. Catherine Ndereba lives in Pennsylvania, has a little girl, and goes back to Kenya regularly for altitude training and to see her family.

On a similar note, the top three men’s marathon runners were replaced. The fickle KAAA felt the men were not training hard enough and in a controversial move named replacements. However, Tanui and Kosgei feel they were replaced because they criticized the Kenyan track group and urged the resignation of its directors. Here is the new team:

Osoro Ondoro, 1st place Chicago Marathon 1999
Kennedy Cheruiyot, Rotterdam Marathon winner
Eric Wainaina, 1996 Atlanta Olympic games marathon bronze medalist

Elijah Lagat, 1st place Boston Marathon April 2000
Moses Tanui, two-time former Boston Marathon champion
Japhet Kosgei, 1st place at Turin, Venice, Rotterdam, and Tokyo

Kipchoge Keino, chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, is not happy with these changes and claims the men’s team has been weakened. I feel he is right.

Even worse, Sunday, July 23 Osoro Ondoro was shot in the neck by some carjackers. He is currently in stable condition.

Update to this article…
Monday August 1, 2000 – Ondoro is currently still in the hospital and has been replaced by Elijah Lagat, one of the original team members.

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