Benson Kombe tore the murram track at the Mumias Sugar Sports Complex Stadium to shreds to win both the 200m and 100m during the Kenya Primary Schools National Athletics Championships last year.
The 17-year-old, who doesn't have a trainer, accomplished the feat barefoot while representing Coast region and his Dabaso Primary School from Malindi, Kilifi County.
Kombe, now a Form One student at ACK Canon Mweri Memorial Secondary School in Malindi, Kilifi County, is still running barefoot with no proper training attire as he prepares for the World Under-20 Championships trials.
Kombe is among over 30 juniors who are in dire need of training equipment and expertise from Coast Region's Kijiwetanga camp so as to have equal representation and stake when trials for World Under-20 are called.
The World Under-20 Championships were due for July 7-12 this year at the Moi International Sports Centre, but have since been postponed owing to Covid-19 pandemic.
"We lack basic things like training shoes and track suits," said Kombe, the last born in a family of four. "I have never had the opportunity of being handled by a qualified sprints coach."
Kombe said he has never used running spikes or the start blocks. "I hope to use them before trials are called for the World junior event," said Kombe.
Kombe's plight is shared with Muktar Farhan whom he partnered with to win the 4x100m title at the national primary schools athletics event, the 2018 Kenya Secondary Schools National 200m champion Katana Chaleo, who is in Form Four at Kijiwetanga Secondary School and Beatrice Karisa, a Form Three student at Kachororoni Secondary School Ganze, Kilifi County.
"We can go far in sprints if we are to get help with running apparels and good coaches. We have been running barefoot for long and its about time we are helped," said Farhan, who won silver in 110 hurdles and bronze in 200m at the 2019 national primary schools athletics.
"We simply need help both from the county governments at the coastal region and Athletics Kenya," said Karisa, who reached the finals of the 100m, 200m and 4x100m during the Kenya National Secondary School Games last year.
The juniors, who are at the Kijiwetanga camp for the World Under-20, were speaking after receiving cash and food at Kijiwetanga Primary School.
At hand to distribute the donations were Kilifi County deputy commissioner Thuo wa Ngugi, who was the guest of honour, Athletics Kenya (AK)director for youth and development Barnaba Korir and AK Coast Region chairman Dimmy Kisalu, AK Coast Region secretary general Felix Ngala and county chairmen Anisa Abdallah (Mombasa), Jarha Tenda (Tana River), Joshua Malingi( Kilifi).
Kisalu warned other regions that they should be ready for a bruising battle especially in sprints during trials for World Under-20. "We are tentatively concentrating on sprints since that is where we are strong and believe we shall produce athletes for the world event," noted Kisalu.
Korir said Coast Region has the capacity to produce good athletes capable of giving their rivals a run for their money.
Korir called on county governments in the region to develop their respective sporting infrastructure.
"AK shall also play its role too. We have identified Coast as part the areas that will benefit from training equipment that we shall be receiving soon from Nike," said Korir.
Abdallah, who is also the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Show chairperson,said they will donate training shoes and tracksuits to those at the Kijiwetanga Camp.
Thuo wa Ngugi said Kilifi County will donate five bags of rice and a similar number of bags of beans to Coast Region World Under-20 camp in Malindi.