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IAAF decision to shelve 5km, 10km races is retrogressive

Thursday March 14 2019

Kenya's Hellen Obiri reacts after winning the women's 5000m event during the Rome IAAF Diamond League athletics competition on June 8, 2017 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. PHOTO | ALBERTO PIZZOLI |

Kenya's Hellen Obiri reacts after winning the women's 5000m event during the Rome IAAF Diamond League athletics competition on June 8, 2017 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. PHOTO | ALBERTO PIZZOLI |  AFP

BARNABAS KORIR
By BARNABAS KORIR
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I’m against the cancellation of long distance competitions from the Diamond League programme following a ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at their Council meeting in Doha this week.

The move, as voiced elsewhere, is illegitimate and targets African nations and the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) must protect us from this calculated move to kill athletics on the continent in the guise of “tailor-making events for television.”

We have sat back and watched the IAAF kill many other events that we are good at, and we can’t stand this anymore.

Remember they had introduced the four-kilometre race in cross country and when Africans continued shinning, they retreated and cancelled it.

This was followed by cross country being staggered over two years instead of the annual format.

Recently, the IAAF introduced the mixed relay in the cross country programme with a view of attracting the European nations, but with Kenya having dominated the new race in 2017 in Kampala, I see the tune changing very soon.

As we speak, the IAAF World Under-20 Championships will not feature the 10,000m (for both men and women) while the women’s 5,000m has been cancelled.

We cannot sit back and wait for all distance races to be removed for us to voice our concern.

In fact, the way things are going, I foresee the marathon being struck off the World Championships programme in favour of half marathon.

In as much as IAAF want to hide behind the TV issue to frustrate Africa as a continent, this is unacceptable and should stop forth with.

As Africa, we’ve got the powers to stop this move that will leave our youth with no choice but to turn into cattle herders. You can imagine how many Kenyans feature in 5,000 and 10,000m.

And is it a coincidence that this move is coming after Briton Mo Farah moved into marathon.

Truth be told, we are watering down athletics and these decisions will come back to haunt us.

What’s the use of making a few people happy and driving away the rest?

Besides, it is not a must that the 10,000m or 5,000m be aired live all the time. As the athletics family, it important that we care about children and athletes who have talent in long distance.

When IAAF President Sebastian Coe was elected, he promised to bring back events like 10,000m back to glory. Unfortunately, what is happening now is to the contrary.

It’s is either we work towards the growth of athletics, or work to bring it down.

Korir is the chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch. [email protected]

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