Gathimba, Wachira chase glory in London

Sunday August 13 2017

Samuel Gathimba in action during the National Athletics Championship 20km men race walk final on July 10, 2015 at the Safaricom Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Samuel Gathimba in action during the National Athletics Championship 20km men race walk final on July 10, 2015 at the Safaricom Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI
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IN LONDON

Kenyan race walkers Samuel ‘Speedy’ Gathimba and Simon Wachira hope to fully recover from a bout of strong fever that almost ruined their maiden show at the World Championships here.

They are looking to bounce back with a good showing in men’s 20-kilometre final on Sunday.

The chilly and rainy London weather seemed to have taken its toll on the Kenyan duo, who fell sick upon arrival here on August 1.

Gathimba and Wachira said that a misdirection on the route might have cost them a good performance after they failed to finish their race at last year’s Rio Olympics are confident they will not allow the fever to distract their focus in London.

“All is well now. We are determined and the experience from 2016 Rio Olympics will help spur us to good performances against the world’s finest in London,” said Gathimba, the Africa race walk champion.

“We may have not finished the event in Rio de Janeiro but we learnt a lot from the championships,” said Gathimba, who won the Africa title last year in a championship and national record time of one hour and 19.24 minutes.

It’s the same championship where Wachira finished fifth in 1:23:26.

“The doctors handled our case well and we are fine ready to do Kenya proud on the final day,” said Gathimba, adding that they will stay with the pack unlike in Rio so as to strike when the right time comes.

Chinese Wang Zhen and Cai Zelin claimed a 1-2 finish at Rio Olympics, relegating Australian Dane Bird-Smith to third place.

Gathimba said they now know some of the top walkers especially from China and other places hence planning had been easy for them. “I was happy to represent Kenya at the Olympics and the World Championships for the first time,” said Gathimba, adding that they want to make their mentor, legendary former national and Africa champion David Kimutai of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) proud.

“Kimutai has been a great mentor, having given us a few tricks. I am sure he will be proud of us if we are to perform well,” said Gathimba.

Gathimba made his international debut at the 2014 Africa Championships in Morocco where he got silver before claiming another silver at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville.

Wachira, who will be making his fourth appearance for Kenya after the 2015 African Games, 2016 Africa Championship and last year’s Olympics, said they will not play pacesetters again.

“Rio taught us good lessons and we are prepared for London,” said Wachira.

“We are putting God first the rest will roll out.”