Coach Julius Kirwa has heaped praise on Kenya’s young team that finished seventh overall with a total of with 31 medals at the 12th African Games in Morocco.
The team, which bagged 11 gold medals, 10 silver and 10 bronze, arrived back home on Tuesday.
“We fielded a young team of athletes who were eager to learn and do well. We trained them and made them know they were carrying hopes of millions of Kenyans, and they posted good results,” Kirwa said Tuesday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival with the second batch of Team Kenya athletes.
He urged Kenyan athletes to strive to perform well at the World Athletics Championships later this month in Doha, Qatar.
“We passed through Doha on our way back from Morocco, and it was very hot, so there’s a lot to be done before we head out. We may need to train in hot and humid areas like Ruiru and Athi River around midday to compete well in Doha,” he added.
Team captain Julius Yego, who led his training partner Alexander Kiprotich to taking gold and silver in javelin throw, was satisfied with Kenya’s performance.
“We are so happy to be back home as a glorious team. I had promised President Uhuru Kenyatta that I will win gold in Rabat and I’m happy I have fulfilled that promise. I’m also happy that most medals we won came from junior athletes. Quailyne Jebiwott, Vanice Kerubo and others did very well,” he said.
Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei urged the youngsters to resist the temptation to switch to road races at a young age.
“You may do damage to your body early in your career when you run road races at a young age,” he said and announced that Kenya will select its team for the World Championships on September 12 to 13 at Nyayo National Stadium.
Sports Principal Secretary Karimi Kaberia said embarrassment meted out on national teams before international assignments will be a thing of the past.
Kaberia promised that the government will pay athletes allowances 14 days before departure to international assignments.
“We will not allow embarrassment of our athletes again. Fourteen days before departure, all issues to do with allowances payable to athletes will be sorted out. Coaches will have to do final team selection seven days before departure,” Kaberia said while welcoming back the athletics and boxing teams on Tuesday.
Apart from athletics, boxing, volleyball, beach volleyball, taekwondo, cycling and swimming where Kenya collected medals, Kenya also took part in judo, handball, table tennis, basketball 3x3, rowing, badminton, tennis, chess, karate, triathlon, shooting, weightlifting, archery, canoeing and wrestling.
Team Kenya athletes have been arriving back from Rabat in batches since Friday last week, with athletics and basketball being the last to return on Tuesday afternoon.
Kenya entered the sixth largest contingent of 259 athletes behind hosts Morocco (401) and Egypt (325), Nigeria (311), Algeria (268) and Democratic Republic of Congo (263).
The athletics team, mainly consisting of juniors, won 10 of the 11 gold medals as well as six silver medals and four bronze at the quadrennial championship.