"We are ready for this Olympics and we are going for a record medal haul. I have the best team ever in Kenya's Olympics history. That is what we are looking at. At least 12 gold medals, including the elusive 10,000m men's title. As for the overall medal tally, you can multiply that by three."
Only a week ago, Kenya looked forward to the start of Olympic Track & Field competition confident in their talent, their preparations, and their place as one of the dominant countries in the sport of middle and long distance running. Seven days later and halfway through the program of distance events, the Kenyan men and women are falling short of their (admittedly) ambitious goals. There is talk of gloom in the Kenyan camp. Is it fair to say that Kenya is struggling?
The Kenyan men were shut out in the both the 10K (5th, 12th, and a DNF) and the 1500 (7th, 11th, and last), events in which the U.S. got two silver medals. A gold and bronze in the steeple helped. It would have been a national tragedy not to win the steeple.
As for the Kenyan women, Priscah's Jeptoo's silver in the marathon and a silver and bronze in the 10,000m (behind the gold-medal efforts of Ethiopian runners in both events) have been better. However, I can't be the only one shocked that Mary Keitany failed to medal in the marathon, and it was disappointing that the Kenyan women were shut out in the steeple.
The bottom line is that after six distance events, Kenya still leads the distance medal count with one gold, two silvers, and two bronzes. Ethiopia has two golds and two bronzes. No other country has more than two medals in these events.
And Kenya certainly has great chances for medals in the men's 800 (Rudisha!), 5000, and marathon, and in the women's 800, 1500, and 5000. I wonder, though, whether the semi-malaise will affect the once invincible Kenyan men in the marathon. The selection process for the marathon was bizarre and of necessity eliminated potential medal winners from the Kenyan team. Will the three runners who made the cut redeem the country's reputation?
Meanwhile, after Leo Manzano's miracle silver in the 1500, the U.S. with two medals hungry for more. The men's marathon would be a long shot, but the U.S. seems to have decent chances for medals in the men's 5000m and women's 1500 and 800.
Will the U.S. continue to exceed expectations? Will Kenya regain its form? Next up for the d/mid-d crowd is the men's 800 on Thursday. Does anyone doubt that Rudisha will get Kenya back on track?