• Team Kenya bagged bronze in the 4x400 mixed relay.
• Mwaniki calls for exposure and better preparation for sprinters.
After failing to qualify for the 2019 World Championships set for Doha, Qatar in September during the world relays championships in Yokohama, Japan over the weekend, Kenyan 4x400m sprinters have a chance to do so in Belgium in July.
The 4x400m mixed relays team were the only Kenyan medallists in Yokohama, grabbing bronze and therefore have their ticket to Doha intact.
Maureen Thomas, Hellen Syombua, Aron Koech and Jared Momanyi saved Kenya’s face and the country will be hoping for better displays in Doha and already, plans are underway to facilitate the 4x400m teams travel to Europe in July.
Athletics Kenya Youth Committee chairman Barnaba Korir said they learnt valuable lessons in Japan and are eager to get their acts together ahead of the worlds.
“The 4x400m (men and women) teams will seek qualification at the Heusden Meeting in Belgium in July,” revealed Korir. Ahead of the World Relays, Athletics Kenya sent various teams to the Penn Relays but they performed dismally with Korir now calling for proper prior preparations in the build-up to Doha.
“Long term preparations is needed with every infrastructural support. Relay is a technical event and every athlete needs proper support including the availability of competent coaches.”
His observations were amplified by sprints coach Stephen Mwaniki, who has advocated for a twitch in the Athletics Kenya calendar of events, which he claims is unfavourable for sprinters.
Speaking upon arrival back in the country yesterday, Mwaniki said: “Our calendar needs to change especially for sprinters. We need to select the team early and get the preparation right and once we do that, we stand of chance of winning more medals.”
He observed that the team to the World Relays Championships was selected mid last month giving the team hardly enough time to prepare.
He was, however, satisfied with the displays produced by the 4x400m and the 4x200m men’s teams.
“I’m very happy with the athletes, across all the categories. It shows the potential and that we can do better with better preparations and 100 per cent input from everyone involved,” added Mwaniki.
He also called for sprinters to be exposed in international meetings to bridge the gap between them and athletes from powerhouses USA, Jamaica and the Europeans.
“Our sprinters need exposure I believe we can match the best in the world, if given the opportunity,” he said, adding: “All the good facilities, especially for sprinters, are in Nairobi and the onus is on county governments to build good tracks which the sprinters can use at the grassroots level.”
Alphas Kishoiyan has asked for support from the federation and government in order to improve performance in the short races. “We do no get enough races to test ourselves against the best in the world. We have the potential to do even better with the right support,” said Kishoyian.
He seemed to read from the same script with Korir, who observed that lack of support from the government is demoralising the athletes.
Meanwhile, Korir has bemoaned the last minute omission of 100m and 200m national champion Maximilla Imali and 400m runner Evangeline Makena, due to the newly-effected IAAF testosterone rules.
“It (the omission) did affect the team especially coming abruptly, without warning. There was no time for the teammates to adjust and of course the mental anguish it had on the individuals concerned,” said Korir. “We need to establish a better method of responding to such sensitive issues without injuring the feelings of the athletes.”