• Njeru said many athletes below 25 years have embraced the road in the hunt for instant cash
• Failure by the powers that be to nurture local athletes has seen the region battle rely on rejects from other regions to do for them the job in local meetings .
Athletics Kenya (AK) Eastern region have lamented over the huge number of the athletes they are losing to the roads.
Embu High Altitude Training Camp coordinator Stephen Njeru said young runners are venturing into road running early hence the move has continued to be counterproductive.
“Our young athletes are venturing into road running way too early. Training for road and track running is different and once an athletes heads to the roads early, they cannot perform on track,” he said.
Njeru said many athletes below 25 years have embraced the road in the hunt for instant cash but unfortunately the life span in athletics has been cut short because of the move. “They burn out early even before they realise their potential,” he added.
Besides, Njeru said some runners do not know why they they are in athletics.
Speaking while receiving food rations and cash stipends from Athletics Kenya Youth Development chairman Barnaba Korir on behalf of the government and AK, Njeru said their biggest challenge has been to convince the youthful runners that athletics is huge business.
“Our biggest challenge is negligence. A runner does well while in school but once he/she clears education and you ask why they don’t run anymore, they say ‘I finished school’. It is like they were just running for the school,” said Njeru.
“We want to change this mentality so that our people can appreciate that running is a business. We are using the U20 camp to inculcate this culture. We also want ensure that all our athletes are well taken care of—to and from championships— and in addition, make sure that whatever they win, they take the whole amount home.”
Njeru added: “We are also training a number of teachers in the sub-counties, who will be in charge of not only athletics but sport in general within their regions. The parents are also key in encouraging the athletes to take up sports and we are always talking to them, telling them whatever we are doing now is for the good of everyone in the future.”
“We are using Eliud Kipchoge as an example of what a good runner can do to our community and the response has been overwhelming.”
For years, Athletics Kenya (AK) Eastern region has had to rely on athletes from other regions to fly their flag in local championships.
Failure by the powers that be to nurture local athletes has seen the region battle rely on rejects from other regions to do for them the job in local meetings .
However, the region has woken up as revealed by AK Eastern region chairman Ainsworth Maragara. “On numerous occasions, I have had to answer an embarrassing question from AK president Jack Tuwei: ‘Maragara, what have you brought from Eastern,” said Maragara. “This has challenged us a lot as a region and I am glad to say that the journey has started. During the national cross country championships in February, we fielded a team of mostly our locally-based athletes and the World Under 20 camp will help us bridge the gap heading into the restart to the season once the coronavirus pandemic has been contained.”