•Tuwei fended off criticisms surrounding Team Kenya's selection, saying everything was done procedurally.
•He said the absence of a solid training regimen and incentives merely served to demoralise the athletes, consequently derailing their growth.
Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei has called for patience in the wake of Kenya's declining form on the global stage.
Tuwei jumped to the defence of local athletes, attributing their torrid show in recent years to circumstances beyond their control.
He particularly placed Kenya's dwindling fortunes at the feet of the ravenous Covid-19 pandemic that reared its ugly head two years ago.
“These are very unique times because, for the last two years, you all know what hit the sports world, particularly athletics. There were no competitions anywhere in the world and the athletes were very idle.”
He said the absence of a solid training regimen and incentives merely served to demoralise the athletes, consequently derailing their growth.
“You remember at some point we closed the camps and sent the athletes home to train on their own.
“Training alone is not as good as training with the team in the camp. They had a lot of problems; they did not get whatever they usually get in terms of the prize money whenever they go for competitions.”
Tuwei further attributed Kenya's woes to a crammed international schedule that left little room for rest and recovery.
“World Athletics postponed most of the competitions. The Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed from 2020 to 2021. That's why the next Olympic Games are going to be in 2024, two years from now. Normally they are held after four years.
“We were supposed to host the World Under-20 in Nairobi in 2020 but again this too was postponed by one year. Most of the programs were therefore crammed and that's why the Commonwealth Games have closely followed the World Championships.”
Tuwei fended off criticisms surrounding Team Kenya's selection, saying everything was done procedurally.
“When we held our trials, we actually selected two teams. Fortunately, they trained together and I want to thank NOC-K President Paul Tergat and the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for allowing us to assemble the teams together.
“It is not easy for an athlete to compete in two major championships within a very short time. Some get injured and others may not be willing. For example, Wanyonyi (Emmanuel) said he was not willing after competing in Oregon.
He hailed the athletes who flew the country's flag in Oregon, saying they deserve a pat on the back for emerging fourth in the world. “That's not a mean achievement. We want to congratulate the team that went there.”
Tuwei, who accompanied Team Kenya to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom, has tipped the country to pull off podium sweeps at the Alexander track in Birmingham. “I want to wish them all the best as they hit the field and track. We expect good results,” Tuwei said.
“I would like to ask all of us to encourage the athletes, to support them and pray for them because these competitions are not very easy by the way.”
National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) president Paul Tergat extolled the Kenyan contingent for proving their mettle in Birmingham thus far. “We are happy that a good number of Kenyan athletes are very young and, most importantly, doing very well. The young girl who represented us in weightlifting managed to lift 65 to 75kg, ” Tergat said.
“The hockey players also did very well on the global stage if we consider they have been absent from the international stage for a very long time.”
Chef de mission, John Ogolla, sought to explain the changes made to the Kenyan team that locked out some athletes from the competition despite having traveled all the way to Birmingham.
“There are conditions to follow in late athlete entry. Unfortunately, we tried to change that but because of the Commonwealth Games policy we were unable to,” Ogolla said.
“As soon as we go back home, we shall look at our processes so that we don't find ourselves faced with a similar problem in the future.”