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To remain tops, tackle challenges in athletics

Tuesday October 8 2019

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Team Kenya put up a splendid performance to once again finish second both in points and medal standings at the just concluded 17th edition of the World Championships in athletics in Doha, Qatar. The team collected 11 medals: Five gold, two silver and four bronze medals for a total of 122 points in what was a replica of the previous 2017 London World Championships.

Kenya that had a contingent of 56 finished behind United States, who topped with an improved tally of 29 medals; 14 gold, 11 silver and four bronze. They had 10 gold medals from 2017 London.

Notably, Kenya’s continental rivals Ethiopia finished fifth with eight medals; two gold, five silver and once bronze with Uganda coming in ninth with two gold medals. Nigeria only managed a bronze, while South Africa had no medal. We can’t take it for granted that our athletes remain at the top, once gain beating powerhouses like Jamaica, Britain, China and Germany.

The performance might not have matched the historic 2015 Beijing Championships where the country topped the medal standings, but replicating the 2017 London World Championships feat in Doha was by all means a big feat.

Yet, performance could be better with good facilities and preparations, improved remuneration for athletes and diversification to sprints and field events, many from the middle long distance events. Already, there are concerns that the country is losing grip on its traditional events like steeplechase where Kenya used to win with ease. That the country is now getting serious challenge despite having won both men and women’s titles in Doha is real.

There is nothing to write home about in men’s 10,000m and 5,000m, men and women’s 800m and women’s 10,000m.


These are areas where Athletics Kenya and other stakeholders, especially top coaches and managers, should address. Kenya is yet to win the men’s Olympic and World 10,000m titles since Naftali Temu in 1968 and Charles Kamathi in 2001 respectively.

Lack of proper training facilities has been another major concern with athletes mainly from the Rift Valley, the area that produces the bulk of the athletes, finding it difficult to train or access good equipment. We have had the government talking about how it’s committed to providing facilities with the construction of stadia across the country, but that has remained empty talk.

The Nation has, in the past weeks, serialised the poor state of facilities across the country, yet money has been released in some cases for stadium construction.

Lastly, we wish Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon World record holder, success as he bids to run a marathon under two hours on Saturday in Vienna, Austria.