NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1 – “We will do wonders in London,” that is the message Team Kenya coach for the IAAF London World Championships, Julius Kirwa sounded as the first batch of 28 athletes departed for the United Kingdom capital on Tuesday ahead of the competition that runs from August 4-13.
With the ladies donning dazzling mustard dress and a dapper grey suit look for the men, the team led by veteran 3000m steeplechase king Ezekiel Kemboi departed the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 9:20am beamed with confidence.
However, the team will be without defending champions, 800m world record holder David Rudisha and 400m hurdles title holder Nicholas Bett, who pulled out with injuries but Kirwa believes the squad that travelled to London is capable of retaining the world status.
In 2015 during the Beijing edition, Kenya wrote history by topping the globe for the first time ever, having hauled a total of 16 medals; 7 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze.
“We are going to try and retain our world championships title. We pray God to assist our athletes perform well because we have trained well and the athletes are ready to represent the country. I am confident we will do wonders and get more that seven gold medals,” Kirwa said moments before the team departed.
In the absence of Rudisha and Bett, coach Kirwa tipped Aaron Koech (400m H) and the trio of Kipyegon Bett, Emmanuel Korir as well as Ferguson Rotich (men’s 800m) to ensure the titles remain in Kenya.
“Kenya has many potential athletes to fill in the shoes of our hero Rudisha and Bett. Rudisha got a muscle strain when training, so he is not ready to compete. I am satisfied with the team that I am going with. We are the defending champions, it will not be easy but we are going to try and see we maintain our standards that we achieved in Beijing.”
Day one of the programme on Friday will see Kenya seek to start on a golden note when two-time world Cross Country champion, Geoffrey Kamworor will team up with compatriots World Half Marathon silver medallist, Bedan Karoki and Olympic silver medallist, Paul Tanui to stop superstar Mo Farah in the men’s 10,000m final at his home track.
In Beijing, Kamworor finished second behind Mo Farah while Tanui bagged bronze.
Also in the opening day programme will be the women’s 1500m heats where Kenya will be led by Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon in a race that sees South African 800m star Caster Semenya debut.