NAIROBI, Kenya, March 12 – Athletics Kenya (AK) will place more emphasis on future editions of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in a bid to close the gap with arch rivals Ethiopia who are running away with the bragging rights in the closed-circuit global showpiece.
Kenya trail 53-26 in the all-time World Indoor medal charts to their bitter northern neighbours after the conclusion of the 2014 edition to the event in Sopot, Poland, where Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku and Helen Obiri Onsando won the country’s only honours with gold and silver in the corresponding men and women 3000m races.
Ethiopia won five medals in Poland, 2 gold, 2 silver and a bronze with world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba (women 3000m) and Mohammed Aman (men 800m) standing in the middle step of the podium to finish third in the overall standings as Kenya propped up the top ten.
Speaking in his first scheduled monthly media briefings Wednesday, AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat, stated Kenya has been performing poorly since most of her elite athletes decline to compete at the World Indoors for fear of picking injuries.
The event sees athletes compete in a closed door track and field compared to the main World Championships held in an open a bigger stadium.
“We have not been taking World Indoor seriously, we have been selecting athletes who wish to participate and we have not taken it as part of the world athletics series where we participate. We are not really World Indoor participants but we want to take the competition with a lot of concern.
“We have been performing poorly since we don’t have facilities required but as we seek to be at par with Ethiopia, we will go ahead and organise our athletes train in foreign countries that have the equipment,” the AK chief declared at a media briefing at Riadha House.
He added: “I wish to congratulate, in a special way, our gold medallist, Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, and silver medallist Hellen Onsando Obiri, who won her second medal after the gold she took at the previous championships in 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey, also in the 3,000 metres.”
Kenya paled compared to the 2012 running in Istanbul where four medals were won with women’s 800m Olympics champion Pamela Jelimo, setting a world leading 1:58.83 to win Gold while Obiri clinched the 3000m.
Commonwealth Games men’s 5000m champion Augustine Choge settled for silver in 3000m with 2008 Olympics 5000m bronze winner, Edwin Soi weighing in with his bronze.
At the same time, the federation president announced AK would interview four consultancy companies on March 28 with the winning candidate mandated to give an overview report on what should be done to improve the standards of the most successful sport in the country.
“We are going to make a lot of changes beginning this year. We want to get a consultancy who will give us directions on whether our events have been successful or failed.
“We want to change the set up of our competition programme so that we are in line with IAAF. We also want to combine both competition with entertainment and culture so that people can came to the stadium and watch their own athletes compete as it happens all over the world.
“We want to change the face of Athletics to make it better as soon as possible,” he added.
Kiplagat urged the African Cross country team to step up their game for Sunday’s event that will be held in Kampala, Uganda as they bid to defend their title.
“The team has been training hard in Ngo’ng and we expect challenge from all the 25 countries that have confirmed participation.
“But we are confident in retaining gold medals won by Clement Langat and Joyce Chepkirui in the senior along with the junior women’s won by Faith Chepng’etich and I’m happy she has graduated to the senior through her victory at the national cross country championships held at Uhuru Gardens last month.”
The team of 24 athletes and seven officials will depart the country Friday for the biennial continental event that has attracted 25 countries thus far at the Kololo Grounds in Kampala.
On preparation for the inaugural IAAF World Relay Championships in Bahamas on May 24 and 25, Kiplagat said they are working to ensure all elite athletes attend the trials and electronic timing is used in the three meets set aside to select the squad.
The preliminaries will be held on March 22, with the second round set for April 5 before the finals that will run on April 26 at Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.