NAIROBI – Kenyan head coach Julius Kirwa has warned the country must embrace and develop field events and sprint races to widen its medal scope if it is to reign supreme at the World Championships.
Kirwa, who will guide the Kenyan team to Doha, Qatar for the World Championships which run from Sept. 28-Oct. 6, says the country will be subdued and be forced to surrender its dominance in the sport as Ethiopia, China, the U.S. and Arab countries with imports from East Africa take center stage.
“We must transit and be dynamic with the changing trends. Kenya longer rules the middle and long-distance competitions because Qatar, Uganda, Morocco, U.S, Ethiopia and Bahrain have infiltrated it. They too have athletes born in Rift Valley and with better preparations. Kenya is under threat, we are under attack and we must be at our best game to prevail,” Kirwa said on Friday.
He pointed out Kenya’s failure to win medals in the women’s 10,000m race where Ethiopia swept the podium and there was a loss for the country in women steeplechase, 800m and 1,500m. Kenya team also lost the 10,000m gold in men’s race at the Africa Games.
However, to remedy this, Kirwa is calling for the country to be pragmatic and invest holistically in training coaches, developing sprinters and securing technical support that will help the young athletes to excel.
Kenya has very good sprinters and all that is needed is to change the mentality towards the disciplines. “We seem not to take sprints seriously and that is not good for the country,” he noted.
He said sprints can be a good alternative for the winning fortunes in some of the long-distance events including the 10,000m.
“The teams here have proved that sprints can be the next big thing for Kenya and I think we need to focus on them,” he noted. Kirwa said there is a lot of potential in sprints if the results in Rabat are anything to go by.
“Alphas Kishoyian and Mary Moraa missed a medal by a whisker while the women’s 4x100m won a bronze medal, beating some of the renown names in sprints. This is a clear message for us to capitalize on the situation and diversify our scope,” he added.
He said that Kenya would exploit the field events and build on with the success attained by Olympic javelin silver medalist Julius Yego and Africa Games high jump champion Mathew Sawe.
“Like in sprints, field event is another virgin area which we need to exploit. We can’t sit on a gold mine and do nothing,” he said.