Uganda's contingent for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has been weakened by the absence of star marathon runners Stephen Kiprotich and Solomon Munyo Mutai.
The Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) confirmed that Kiprotich has opted to skip the Games in April to concentrate on the Hamburg Marathon, while Mutai is nursing an injury.
"Kiprotich communicated to us that he will not be part of the Commonwealth Games since his focus is the 2018 Hamburg Marathon. He decided to give chance to other younger runners," an administrator at the Federation, Timothy Masaba, told KweséESPN on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Kiprotich had indicated that he was eager to add a Commonwealth Games medal to his cabinet. But the former world champion decided to skip a second consecutive Commonwealth Games to try and improve on the silver medal he secured at last year's Hamburg event.
The fast-improving Mutai, who won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships in China and finished 8th at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, is out on doctor's orders, he confirmed to the media.
"When I resumed training after [a recent break] I got muscle pains and was advised to take a rest for two months. I have to follow medical advice," said Mutai, who came 4th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Even without the duo, Uganda is still hopeful of winning medals in the track and field events during the Games, which will take place April 4-15 in Gold Coast City, Australia.
Jackson Kiprop, Robert Chemonges, and Alex Chesakit are the other runners expected to challenge for medals in the marathon. But Moses Kipsiro, who won gold in the 10,000m race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, will miss the event.
Dominic Otuchet, president of the UAF, said that although they would have liked to have all their top athletes available for the journey Down Under, they cannot force athletes to take part.
"We respect the wishes of our senior athletes, but also believe that we have a good team that can still win medals in Australia," he told KweséESPN.