Let’s nurture the next crop of Kenyan stars

Thursday September 14 2017

Kenya's Leonard Bett celebrates crossing the finish line to win the boys' 2000m steeplechase during the World Under 18 Championships on July 16, 2017 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kenya's Leonard Bett celebrates crossing the finish line to win the boys' 2000m steeplechase during the World Under 18 Championships on July 16, 2017 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BARNABAS KORIR
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Despite highlighting the country’s plight, especially in men’s 5,000 metres, 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase, I am still scratching my head for answers.

As I said earlier, there is no secret that the road races are fast consuming our potential long distance runners. The 5,000m and 10,000m are big casualties and this has been attributed to the lure of the dollar and lack of races in the two cadres.

Diamond League races have focused on the shorter distances with dictates from the television, ignoring the long distance track races.

RETIREMENT FROM TRACK

As it was evident in London last month, We are suffering, with all our 10,000m and 5,000m runners contemplating to follow Briton Mo Farah on the roads after his retirement on track.

This has left us with very few options amid debate around the future of the country in long distance races. However, the recent World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi gives me hope that with good planning we can fill that gap.

This is not an easy task as Athletics Kenya will have to work very closely with the government to ensure we nurture our youths. With cross country season starting next month in Ndalat, we need to use the forum to keep our youth busy as we guide them into the long distance stardom.

As the former national coach Mike Kosgei used to say, cross country is very key for any track runner aspiring to compete at top level.

LOOKING AHEAD

This is why as we prepare for next year’s Commonwealth Games, we will need to recruit  a totally new ‘Batallion’ to spearhead Kenya’s revival in long distance. This also applies to the 3,000m steeplechase where the trio of Ezekiel Kemboi, Brimin Kipruto and Koech Kipsiele have served the country for over 15 years.

It is now time to use Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto to nurture the next generation of steeplechasers.

It is funny that while the men’s athletics world seem to be going down, the women are fast rising to the occasion —rising the question whether as a country we have ignored the boy child.

As a matter of priority, we need to put our heads together and save a sport that has been the face of this country for decades.