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Manang’oi out of star-studded Police Championship

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AYUMBA AYODI

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Presidential Escort Unit’s (KEU’s) Elijah Manang’oi will not take part in the National Police Service Championship slated for Thursday and Friday at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

Manang’oi, the World and Commonwealth 1,500m champion, will not be defending his 800m title at the Police event due to a hamstring injury.

The 1,500m Continental Cup champion sustained the injury during the 2019 Diamond League opening leg in Doha on May 3 where he won the race in a world leading time of 3:32.21.

However the 26-year-old, who won bronze in the mixed relay at World Cross Country Championships in March, would finish 10th in Stockholm in 3:48.83 and 12th at Prefontaine in 3:57.48.

“I have been struggling with a hamstring injury since Doha but it’s being handled by the doctors,” said Manang’oi, who will skip the Monaco Diamond League on Friday. “All should be well in the next two weeks.”

Manang’oi said he will have recovered in good time for the National Championships that will double up as trials for the World Championships set for August 15-17 at Kasarani. The World event will run from September 28 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar.

“My focus is on the trials and my World title defence,” said Manang’oi.

Despite his absence, the Police Championship that is usually referred to as the “Mini Nationals” still has some spark with an array of elite athletes having confirmed participation.

Among them are Beatrice Chepkoech, Maxilla Imali, Hellen Syombua and Stacy Ndiwa who will be defending their respective titles.

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Former World champions Janeth Jepkosgei (2007) and Eunice Sum (2013) will make a return after a long lay-off alongside 2014 Commonwealth 5,000m champion Mercy Cherono.

Police coach Isaac Kirwa noted that though Chepkoech won the women’s 3,000m steeplechase and 1,500m races last year, she will compete in her steeplechase specialty this time round.

“We still have strong entries despite Manangoi’s absence and we wish him quick recovery,” said Kirwa.

Chepkoech, who holds the 3,000m steeplechase world record, has started the season strongly in her Diamond League Series defence, winning in Shanghai and Stanford, USA.

Chepkoech, the Commonwealth 1,500m silver medallist won her 3,000m steeplechase title at Prefontaine Classic, Stanford in a World Lead and Meet record time of 8:55.58.

Imali, who is the national 400m champion, will defend her 100m and 200m titles while Syombua, who is fresh from breaking Imali’s national 400m record at the African Games trials, will defend her one-lap race title.

Syombua’s breathtaking time of 51.09 during the trials that qualified her for the World Championships, is ranked 18th in the world so far this season.

Ndiwa, the Commonwealth 10,000m silver medallist, makes a return on time to defend her 10,000m title after she failed to finish her race during the National Cross Country Championships in February.

The 2014 Commonwealth and 2015 World Javelin champion Julius Yego is back to reclaim his title while Damacline Nyakeruri will defend women’s javelin crown.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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