•Besides athletics, the first phase of the camp will accommodate football, among other disciplines
•The HATC is a brainchild of former Mwatate legislator and founder of the Madoka Half Marathon, Major (rtd) Marsden Madoka
•Ngerenyi is a high altitude area in Taita Hills and thus ideal for training of athletes
Taita Taveta County is set to establish a premier High Altitude Training Center (HATC) at Ngerenyi in Mwatate sub-county as part of a wider plan to nurture and grow young talented sportspersons.
County executive for Youth, Sports and Social Services, Vumi Ringo, said the Sh20 million training camp is 80 per cent complete and will soon open doors for athletes to train and sharpen their skills.
“This complex will offer appropriate training grounds for county athletes who have been traveling to other regions in search of training facilities,”Ringo said.
Besides athletics, the first phase of the camp will accommodate football, among other disciplines.
Once completed, she said, the 300 capacity facility will consist of an administration block, dining hall and accommodation rooms for both genders.
“The department is committed to improving sports facilities to help tap and nurture talents and help youths earn a living through sports. We can produce better athletes than other areas,” Ringo said.
The HATC is a brainchild of former Mwatate legislator and founder of the Madoka Half Marathon, Major (rtd) Marsden Madoka.
Ngerenyi is a high altitude area in Taita Hills and thus ideal for training of athletes.
Since 2005, it has hosted the annual Madoka Half Marathon, which has been credited for catapulting young athletes from the coastal region to national and international limelight.
Among them include Philadelphia Half Marathon champion Panuel Mkungo and US-based Lameck Mwakio.
“This is a great project for the region. It shall produce more athletes at the grassroots level,” Mkungo said from his training base in Italy.
Last week, the soft-spoken runner clocked 1:01:56 and 1:01:39 to win the Italian Telesia Half Marathon and the Mezza Half Marathon respectively. He is set to participate in other races in Italy later this month.
To realise the full potential of the HATC, Mkungo, however, said there should be a well-organised scouting of young athletes to join the camp.
“We can build a good structure and fail to bring impact to the targeted Coastal region. Let upcoming runners be persuaded to join training,”he noted.
He said lack of training camps in the region has contributed to the low number of Coastal athletes in the national team in the past.
Furthermore, Mkungo advised upcoming athletes to maintain high standards of discipline and set personal goals for them to succeed.
Athletics Kenya Coast Region Chairman Dimmy Kisalu says the HATC is a key sports infrastructure for the region and will go a long way in developing talents.
“This is a way of creating employment for young sportsmen and women who are disciplined and willing to pursue their sports careers,” Kisalu, also AK's national vice treasurer and an International Technical official (ITO), said.
He added: “Mkungo was in the National team donning Kenyan colours in 2019 to the All Africa Games in Morocco. He is a clear example that Coast has a lot of untapped talents.”