Athletics

Farce Of Kenyans Running For Turkey Shown In Comic Flag Moment At Euro Champs

Farce Of Kenyans Running For Turkey Shown In Comic Flag Moment At Euro Champs

Kenya Turkey won the men's team event at the European Cross Country Championships at Samorin in Slovakia on Sunday morning.

It was a Turkish team comprising of four Kenyan-born runners. The race was won by Kaan Kigen Özbilen, originally named Mike Kigen, with Aras Kaya, formally Amos Kibitek in seventh, Polat Kemboi Arıkan, previously known as Paul Kipkosgei Kemboi in ninth and Ali Kaya, originally called Stanley Kiprotich Mukche down in 21st. The only Turkish-born athlete in the team, Alper Demir, finished in 55th.

Kenyan-born athletes competing for Turkey has been a controversial subject in recent years. Earlier this year, the IAAF froze the transfer of athletes' international allegiance to halt the exodus of runners from African countries.

Post-race, the victors held the Turkish flag aloft. Though, it was not correctly aligned. It took Alper Demir, the Turkish-born runner on the Turkish team, to correct the mix-up.

Kenyan-born athletes have dominated the men's race for the past four years while Yasemin Can has won the women's event in the past two championships.

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An Irish men's team comprised of Sean Tobin, Hugh Armstrong, Kevin Maunsell, Paul Pollock, Kevin Dooney and John Travers finished a commendable fifth.

The Irish women’s team, featuring Fionnuala McCormack, Shona Heaslip, Kerry O’Flaherty, Michelle Finn, Fionnuala Ross and Lizzie Lee finished seventh.

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PJ Browne
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