•Africa Under-20 walking race champion Dominic Ndigiti believes race walkers can improve their performances if they compete at more international events
•Ndigiti said race walkers grapple with lack of proper facilities, especially proper shoes
•Ndigiti's coach, George Kariuki, hopeful for better performances for Ndigiti as well as African champion Samuel Gathimba
Africa Under-20 walking race champion Dominic Ndigiti believes the performance levels of Kenyan race walkers can improve with more participation in international events.
Ndigiti said local race walkers will familiarise themselves with international standards of the sport when they compete in such events, just like their counterparts in the middle and long distance races.
"We need more opportunities to compete at such events, such as the IAAF Race Walking Challenge. They will enable us to gauge ourselves with other international athletes and improve ourselves to international standards. Our coaches can also share notes with their foreign counterparts on what has worked for other countries," Ndigiti said.
He lamented the lack of international exposure for race walkers, noting that it affects their approach to training and preparations for upcoming competitions.
"The international competitions for walk races are far apart from each other. Without knowing when next they will be competing, most race walkers become lax in their training, which eventually affects their fitness levels and performance in competitions," he said.
Ndigiti also bemoaned the lack of proper training facilities for race walkers in the country, especially proper race walking shoes.
"Shoes for race walking are pricey and not many athletes can afford them. Many access these shoes when they qualify for major competitions at which point they are provided with a pair to assist in training. However, it is usually long before you are able to replace the shoes at which point, they are worn out," he said.
The former World U-18 bronze medallist is part of a group of athletes training at a bubble camp at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.
Ndigiti, who made his senior debut at last year's Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour, hopes for a podium finish at the Senior African Championships in Algiers, Algeria in June this year.
"We have been training together with Samuel Gathimba (2016 African champion) who has been an asset to me. We have been sharing tactics on how we can improve one another. My aim is to attain the qualifying time for Tokyo Olympics and the weather in Algiers is just perfect for that," he said.
His coach, George Kariuki, expressed optimism over the duo's chances in Algiers and subsequently in Tokyo.
"The important aspect of our training is to teamwork. This bubble training camp is best thing to have happened to us because it allows us to work on our tactics and build team spirit. I am hopeful that the hard work we have put here will bear fruit," he said.