Former Commonwealth Games 400m champion Mark Mutai has set sights on three major titles this year.
The 36-year-old hopes to capture the World Relays 4x400m, All Africa Games and World Military Games titles as well as secure a berth in the Kenyan team for the World Championships slated for August 22 to 30 in Beijing, China.
Mutai, who relinquished his Commonwealth Games title in Glasgow last year after failing to go past the first round, said he is working on redeeming himself this year.
The former national champion has been shaping up in Ngong ahead of the season kick off with the Athletics Kenya Relay Series on February 7 and the Track and Field build-up competition on March 13-14 in Nairobi.
“I have been doing some uphill training, gym sessions and resistant runs,” said Mutai, who is once again eying a place in the relays team for the second edition of the World Relay Championships due for May 2-3 in Nassau, Bahamas.
“I hope we shall now prepare well especially in the baton handling techniques before Bahamas,” said Mutai adding that they should concentrate on the real relays than individual sprint events ahead of Bahamas.
It’s at the Bahamas that teams will be seeking to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
From Bahamas, Mutai will then turn his focus to the AAG due for September 3-19 in Congo Brazzaville and the World Military Games planned for October 2-11 in South Korea.
“I want to also improve on my personal best (45.2) by running a flat 45.0 or better,” said Mutai, who set his personal best when he settled fourth at the 2010 Africa Championships in Nairobi.
The Kenya Defence Forces sergeant won bronze in 400m at the 2011 AAG in Maputo where he also anchored the 4x400m team to victory. He won silver at the previous World Military games held in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro.
Mutai’s team finished 15th overall at the inaugural World relays in Bahamas, clocking 3:04:69 before exiting in the first round with a time of 47.60 at the Commonwealth Games where the 4x400m team was disqualified. Besides winning gold at the 2010 Delhi Games, Mutai settled for silver in the 4x400m.
He reached the semi-finals of the Africa Championships last year in Marrakech, Morocco, clocking 46.77 before winning bronze with the 4x400m team in 3:07.35.
“It’s not only me who didn’t defend my title at the Commonwealth Games, most previous winners didn’t," Mutai said. “Four years is a long time since new people crop up to challenge.”
Mutai explains that lack of competitive activities for sprinters in the country is the other issue that should be addressed. “Sprinters from established countries have the Diamond League for build up while we have nothing,” Mutai said. “AK needs to sponsor sprinters to events outside the country to enable us qualify for major events.”