Kenyan athletes are looking to better their times at the inaugural World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas this weekend.
Head coach Sammy Rono said the 4x800m and 4x1,500m men and 4x1,500m women’s teams are going for fast times to keep their World Records out of reach, as the women’s 4x800m team target the 30-year-old World Record set by Russia in 1984.
The team’s expectations were heightened when Safaricom unleashed major cash rewards both for medal hauls and World Record breaking feats.
The winning team gets Sh1m as silver winners pocket Sh600,000. Bronze winners will get Sh400,000. “Any team that breaks a World Record will earn an additional Sh1m,” disclosed Safaricom director of marketing Rita Okuthe.
Rono explained that the men 4x400m and 4x200m teams are also planning a race of their life considering that the relays will act as qualifiers for the second edition and World Championships respectively next year.
Team captain Mark Mutai and his deputy Janeth Jepkosgei said they are up to the task, ahead of the team’s departure tonight to Nassau via Paris and Miami.
“We are going for the fastest times possible because we hold World Records in some events. We have no choice but to better the times and make our records safe,” said Rono. “We have elite runners in the teams and that should inspire newcomers.”
BROKE SIX-YEAR RECORD
The performance by World champions Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) and Eunice Sum (800m) and World 1,500m bronze medallist Hellen Obiri recently at the Doha Diamond League is also a motivation to the rest of the team.
World 5,000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono, who is also the 2008 and 2010 World Junior 3,000 champion, anchored her team of Irene Jelagat, Ann Karindi and Perin Nenkampi to a new World Record time of 17:05. 72. This record fell only 22 days after another group of Kenyans broke the six-year record of 17:08.34 from the University of Tennessee.