Athletics Kenya eyes strong Commonwealth line-up

Indo Asian News Service

Nairobi, Jan 30 (IANS) Despite the intention of some top runners to skip the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, Athletics Kenya (AK) is keen on sending a strong line-up.

A number of top athletes have distanced themselves from the July 23-Aug 3 event in Glasgow -- among them defending women steeplechase titleholder and world champion Milcah Chemos, reports Xinhua.

With the Commonwealth boycott chorus growing last weekend during the star-laden local Discovery Cross Country meeting in Eldoret, federation boss Isaiah Kiplagat has come out to assure the nation they will not send an under-strength line-up.

"In the past, we have had big names saying they will not compete at the Commonwealth Games but that is nothing to worry about. We have many athletes who realise competing for their nation is the best thing that can happen to their career," Kiplagat said.

"In India, the team brought home the most medals ever and we have started preparations to ensure that is repeated in Glasgow."

He added: "We have been having regular meetings with the National Olympics Committee who have given us funds to prepare the team."

In New Delhi, India, four years ago, Kenya topped the athletics charts with 29 medals, 11 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze, ahead of Australia (20, 6, 3) and Britain (7, 9, 10) who sealed the top three.

Beijing Olympics gold medallist Nancy Jebet Langat became the first Kenyan in history to complete the double at the Commonwealth when she won the 800m and 1500m races.

The AK chief said forthcoming events such as the IAAF Relay World Cup, IAAF World Juniors and Africa Senior Championships would be used to identify possible members for the Scotland Games.

"We have a busy 2014 and our main target will be to remain competitive since there are many nations out there who want to take our place. We cannot afford to relax," Kiplagat said.