Nairobi, Jul 14 (IANS): Troubled world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi has sneaked out of Kenya team's training camp in Nairobi and shifted base to Bristol City.
Kenya Olympics officials said Kemboi requires a quiet and calm environment to train away from the public and media tormenting him over the alleged assault of a woman in Eldoret in June, reports Xinhua.
Joseph Kinyua, the athletics team manager for Team Kenya, said he allowed Kemboi to head to Bristol under coach Bruce Lati to avoid him from being further distracted as he seeks to reclaim the Olympic title, which he last won in 2004.
"Kemboi requested to be moved to Bristol and I agreed because he saw it as the best place to train," said Kinyua Friday.
"We asked all athletes in Nairobi who want to train in Bristol. However, they have opted to stay in Nairobi. We wanted those from 800m and sprinters to go at a lower altitude venue. Those in middle and long distance will however remain in Nairobi and only leave if they make special request," Xinhua quoted him as saying.
Another athlete who will be allowed to report to Bristol earlier will be 1,500m Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop. The rest of Kenya team will depart July 22 for London.
"Kiprop will be running in Monaco next week. Together with other athletes whom we may release for the same event, they will report straight to Bristol after the race in Monaco," said Kinyua.
He said the task ahead is enormous and Kenyan athletes must roll up their sleeves for a bruising battle if they are to surpass the mark posted in Beijing four years ago, where Kenya won 14 medals - six gold, four silver and four bronze - all in track competitions to wind up in position 15.
Kinyua, who was the team manager for athletics in Beijing, said a free hand in the management of the squad was vital as the competitors were professionals.
"There is no need to tie them here if they do not want or take them to Bristol against their wishes. In management you learn to work with your people and these athletes have indicated their desire and we will make sure we offer them all they want so as they can focus on the running."
Kenya's contingent in London is almost similar to that of Beijing (48). There are 48 athletes in track and field, two boxers, two swimmers and one weightlifter in a squad of 53.