Kenya’s team to the World Cross Country Championships in Amman was accorded a huge welcome on Monday with head coach Julius Kirwa saying they needed to revise their surveillance methods ahead of such international competitions.
The team that won one gold, three silver and a bronze medal, retained the overall team title for the 23rd time, having lost it only once, in 2004, to Ethiopia.
On hand to receive the team, amid song and dance from the athletes’ family members, friends and well-wishers, were sports minister Hellen Sambili, Commissioner for Sport, Gordon Oluoch and the Athletics Kenya executive.
Even after the big welcome, Kirwa apologised to Kenyans for his team’s failure to win all the individual titles at the world competition on Saturday as he had hoped for.
However, Kirwa and the minister were in full praise of the team’s overall performance and especially the 1-2 sweep by Florence Kiplagat and Linet Masai in women’s senior race.
They also pointed out Titus Mbishei’s and Mercy Cherono’s silver medals in junior races for praise.
“Ideally, we had the best chances but never cashed on them. Kenyans wanted individual titles but we only managed one. I think something didn’t work well and I should take the blame for that since I’m the head coach,” Kirwa said.
Kirwa noted that the inability to take someone to Amman to survey the weather conditions of the area and the course ahead of the competition played a great role in their failing to secure the individual titles.
He said that while all his teams’ speed was superb, the perennial finishing problem persisted.