•AK's director in charge of competitions Paul Mutwii estimates that 200 athletes will participate across six relay events
•After the relay series, the selected athletes will enter residential training camp in April at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.
•AK is targeting a medal haul at the global stage and an improved performance from their last performance in Yokohama.
Athletics Kenya (AK) will on Saturday stage the first of four relay trials at Nyayo Stadium to select a team to the World Relay Championships in Selesia, Poland on May 1-2.
AK's director in charge of competitions, Paul Mutwii, estimates 200 athletes will participate across six relay events, including— 4x100m; 4x200m; 4x400m mixed relays; 2x2x400m and shuttle relays (100m hurdles for men and women).
"We haven't asked anyone to register beforehand for the event but we estimate that around 200 athletes will be in attendance. At the end of the relay series, we are targeting around 60 athletes to travel to Poland for the World Relay Championships," Mutwii said.
He said the selection criterion will look at the times clocked by the different athletes to see if they tally with World Athletics' prescribed qualifying time.
"There is a standard to be followed, which is the qualifying time provided by WA. For example, in the 4x400m, we will look at the times run by the individual athletes and select the best ones to enter the training camp," he said.
After the relay series, Mutwii explained, the selected athletes will enter residential training camp in April at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.
The training camp commences three weeks before the global showpiece in Poland. Mutwii exuded confidence that the training plan in place for the athletes will earn the country a medal haul in Poland.
"Last time in Yokohama, we bagged a bronze, which was quite impressive considering the sprints have not been our strongest suit as a country. This time we are targeting gold in every relay category although we acknowledge it will not be easy ," he said.
Nonetheless, he reiterated AK's commitment to improving Kenya's fortunes in the sprints, which has been the country's Achilles' heel.
"All over the world, people regard Kenya as athletics powerhouse due to our exploits in middle distance and long distance races. AK is putting every effort to improve our performance in sprints and that is why we are undertaking this rigorous trials to improve our fortunes by providing more exposure to these athletes," Mutwii said.
All the four relay events will be held at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi owing to travel and Covid-19 protocol requirements.
The second and third relay series will be held on January 23 and February 6 respectively before the trials proper on March 26-27.
At the 2019 edition in Yokohama, Japan, the Kenyan quartet of Jared Momanyi, Maureen Nyatichi, Hellen Syombua and Aaron Koech clinched bronze in the mixed 4x400m relays.