It’s high time we went back to the drawing board in as far as Kenyan sprints are concerned.
The just-concluded World Relays Championships in Yokohama, Japan, held at the weekend provided valuable lessons and we can only build on that.
Kenya’s 4x400 metres mixed relays bronze medal and a ticket to the September World Championships in Doha isn’t a bad result to build on.
The performance by Maureen Thomas, Hellen Syombua, Aron Koech and Jared Momanyi means we have what it takes to compete against the best in sprints.
Our performance in the last few years in sprints has pointed to the kind of potential we have as a country.
The late Nicholas Bett won gold in 400 metres hurdles at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing and Boniface Mucheru confirmed the country’s prowess by claiming silver over the same distance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
We haven’t quite moved forward on this but we have instead dipped.
We know our problem as a country in sprints, but it is sad that we do not want to take the initiative. It is an open secret that we lack facilities and as long as the situation persists, we will not change much.
We are aware that Athletics Kenya are the custodians of the sport, and their work is to nurture talent. However, the work of building facilities lies with the government, and this has not be done.
For example, the athletes who went to Japan have been training on grass and this can’t work to their advantage. Besides, there were no incentives for Kenyan athletes, including allowances which they are entitled to.
Truth be told, we can only demand results from where we have made investments but in this case, we haven’t done much for sprinters.
I am glad both government and AK officials were in Japan and saw what it means to have good sprinters. I guess teams like Brazil, Poland, and Trinidad and Tobago did not just wake up to beat sprints superpowers USA in Yokohama.
It has taken heavy investment and time to pull that kind of results. We can’t sit on our laurels and assume we can beat such superpowers with the meagre resources we have.
We need long-term preparations coupled with infrastructural support to succeed. Relay is a technical event and every athlete needs proper support including the availability of competent coaches.
We also, need to give our sprinters exposure in countries like USA and Jamaica.
At the moment we only have the mixed relay team to represent us in sprints in Doha, and this is not good.
That is why AK is trying to make arrangement for the 4x400m teams (men and women) to feature at the Heusden Meeting in Belgium in July as they seek to qualify.
If we really expect something from Doha, this is the time to start.