KORIR: There’s need to change tack in team selection - Daily Nation

There’s need to change tack in team selection

Thursday February 1 2018

A smiling World Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor cruising to victory during the National Police Service Cross Country Championships men's 10km race on January 13, 2018. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI |

A smiling World Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor cruising to victory during the National Police Service Cross Country Championships men's 10km race on January 13, 2018. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BARNABAS KORIR
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Is it that the year has started fast, or Athletics Kenya has a packed calendar? 

Whatever it is, the days seem to be flying fast and I can’t believe the national cross country trials are already here.

Yes, the event will be staged on February 10 at Uhuru Gardens, and there seems to be anxiety already within the athletics circles.

For us, the national cross country is not only an inter-regional show, but an event we have always used to pick the team for either the Africa or world cross country championships. 

This year, we are headed to Algeria for the Africa Cross Country Championships having featured prominently at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala last March.

Unlike in the past where we have relied on the top six runners in every race at the national trials to make the cut for international events, this time we have to be careful.

I wouldn’t say that we dominated Uganda last year despite winning the overall title.

Losing both junior titles, which we have regularly won, was sort of demoralising.

It’s important to check the consistency levels of athletes before engaging them for national duties.

Simply finishing among the top six should not be the yardstick to pick athletes for international assignments.

Going forward, we will need to set benchmarks against which we have to measure the preparedness of individual athletes. 

For example, we have a number of Athletics Kenya series events and before one is selected for national duty, he or she must take part in half of these events.

This should be extended to track to avoid situations where athletes’ chance at national trials and make the team without having the necessary fitness.

This move will sort out a lot of issues including carrying injured runners to international assignments.

By monitoring runners over a period of time through weekend meetings, we will be able to tell who is fit and who is not.

Setting runners free and giving them a blank cheque for international assignments seems not to be working for Kenya.

We may not change much for cross country running, but we need to ring changes as far as track is concerned. Having said that, I want to call on all sports loving Kenyans to avail themselves for the national cross country championships next week. See you there!

Korir, Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch chairman, is also head of Kenya’s team to the 2018 Commonwealth Games: [email protected]