•“The cross country season has always given the athletes the necessary stamina and endurance,” —said Kirwa
•Obiri won in the opener in Monaco clocking 14:22.12 but finished 11th in Stockholm in the 1,500,m after posting 4:10.53 in a race won by Great Britain’s Laura Muir.
Lack of cross country races has resulted in Kenya’s mixed performances in the recent Diamond League meetings.
National athletics head coach Julius Kirwa observed that the cross country season is key in adequately preparing athletes for the track season.
“The cross country season has always given the athletes the necessary stamina and endurance,” said Kirwa
He said: “Traditionally, our athletes start by competing in cross country before moving to the track later in the year. I think lack of cross country season contributed to the mixed results in Stockholm and Monaco for some of our runners,” added Kirwa
The cross country season was to culminate with the Africa Championships in Togo in April but was postponed due to the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in March.
On the Diamond League front, the world and Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri won in the opener in Monaco clocking 14:22.12 but finished 11th in Stockholm in the 1,500,m after posting 4:10.53 in a race won by Great Britain’s Laura Muir.
World 3,000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech finished sixth in Stockholm in the 5,000m posting 14:55.01 with 800m specialist Ferguson Rotich finishing fourth in Stockholm in 1:45.11. World champion 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot has been the notable exception, winning his specialty in both events.
Kirwa was, however, optimistic that the athletes performances will improve in the remaining legs of the Diamond League.
He was bullish that come the 2020-2021 season and with Coronavirus pandemic contained, Kenyan elite runners can go back to normal schedule.
“We hope if the pandemic is contained by October then we can start the cross country programme to February next year before starting preparations for track activities ahead of the Olympic games in Tokyo,” added Kirwa.
Kirwa said the coaches association has sent training manuals to athletes but observed that it’s very difficult to monitor the training.
“Due to the pandemic, we have sent out programmes to them but it’s not been easy to monitor them at the same time. Remember athletes don’t have access to training grounds and this complicates matters,” he noted.
Kirwa predicted an improvement in Kenya’s performances in 5,000 and 10,000m as long as identification of talent in both races is done early.
“ As the coaches association we are aware we have challenges in those two races and we are looking for ways to address them,” observed Kirwa. Kirwa urged athletes to stay focused ahead of the 2021 international season with the Olympics as the main highlight.