•AK has invited Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania for the World Relay Championships trials
•This is to meet qualifying requirements for relay races, which dictate that the teams must be from at least three federations
•AK's director of competitions believes local athletes' performance levels have increased as the Relay Series progresses
Athletics Kenya (AK) have invited relay teams from at least six African countries for the World Relay Championships trials set for March 26 at Nyayo Stadium.
AK's director of competition, Paul Mutwii, said the federation has invited Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania among others, to enable the various Kenyan relay teams meet qualifying standards.
"To qualify, the heat or race in which they have participated in must have teams from at least three federations. This is our motivation for inviting the countries for the event," Mutwii said.
So far, he added, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda have confirmed participation for the national event, which will culminate in a Kenyan relay team to the World Relay Championships in Selesia, Poland on May 1-2.
However, all teams will have to adhere to all Covid-19 regulations, including testing.
"The moment the teams land at the airport, they will be expected to undergo testing for the virus. We have explained this to the federations in our invitation letter and the ones who have thus far confirmed are okay with this requirement," he said.
For the local athletes, the trials will be an invite-only tournament, restricted to those who have participated in the previous three legs of the AK Relay Series held at Nyayo Stadium.
The first leg was held on January 9 whereas the second and third legs were held on January 23 and February 6, respectively.
Mutwii, also the AK vice president, said performance levels of athletes has improved considerably as the series progresses.
"The performance has not been very bad. It has improved particularly in the 4x400m relays for men and women. There is also the 4x100m relay, where we believe we have chances of excelling," he said.
One of the issues noted during the series has been the hesitancy by some of the teams to participate in some of the relay races.
This has been attributed to fatigue considering that some of the athletes in these relay teams often compete in individual races, which precede the relays.
Mutwii said a technical team from the federation is exploring the possibility of beginning with the relays before culminating in individual races.
"We will look into that possibility. There is a technical team working on that and will come up with the way forward soon. "