Athletics Athletics

Let the legs do the talking


NAIROBI, Kenya, August 11- “As athletes, much of our talking is done through our legs. This team is composed of experienced athletes some who are world beaters and others who are coming though and our aim in Korea is to improve on what we left with from Berlin.”

That is how overall team captain who is also the Commonwealth and Africa men 3000m steeplechase champion, Richard Mateloong, summed the task at hand for the 48 athletes who will don the revered red, green and black Kenyan strip at the 13 Worlds.

With a fortnight before embarking on their quest to better the fourth overall placing they posted in Berlin two years ago, Mateelong who is eyeing his first world title after winning bronze in Osaka and silver in 2009  extolled the team work in the squad.

“This squad has unity and together we will make it, divided we will fall. I have been using my experiences to urge them to work as a team since I have seen incidences in the past where we missed out for acting like individuals.”

His assistant and Berlin Worlds women 800m winner, Janeth Jepkosgei, also delivered a glowing assessment of Team Kenya, Daegu chapter saying, “This is the best team ever and we are looking forward to bringing glory to our country. We are focused, more experienced and we have exciting young talent.”

“I was in the Osaka and Berlin teams and I can tell you this team is much better and it can only improve since we are supporting each other. Personally, I want to get back what I lost in Berlin but above all, I want to work for the team,” the Osaka 2007 world champion and 2008 Beijing Olympics silver winner added.

With record government support where Sh27m was given by the sports ministry and a relaxed attitude the usually authoritarian Athletics Kenya (AK) has adopted, that is no shortage of morale in the ranks.

The federation has even allowed seven personal coaches to be in the team set-up while it allowed athletes to take part in post Trials European circuit competition.

“We want to thank the athletes’ agents for staying away from the camp and this is very encouraging. That is why we have allowed personal coaches to work with ours and I’m pleased to say the programmes have been harmonised,” AK chair, Isaiah Kiplagat, the federation patriarch who in the past been bellowing thunder against Athletes Representatives said.

This change in attitude has trickled down to the athletes who are setting about their business without protest that have rocked previous Team Kenya residential training groups.

“These athletes are professionals and the good thing about this team is there is no one who is being pushed to do what they have to do,” Jepkosgei stated.

Star runners in the team are opting to keep their cards close to their chests but unanimous on their will to top their all time Worlds performance in Osaka where Kenya won five gold, five silver and two bronze.

“This year, we have an experienced team to bring the men 1500m gold home. I still find it hard to believe we have never won that medal but if it is Silas Kiplagat to bring it, I will be happy but first, we will work for it with my colleagues,” Commonwealth champion and world men Metric Mile leader, Silas Kiplagat said.

“Nothing would make me happier than winning the 10000m gold and later, defend my 5000m but it’s not about me, it’s about my country and everyone in the team wants to make us proud,” Berlin, Africa and Commonwealth women 5000m champion, Vivian Cheruiyot, expressed.

Her team mate and unbeaten women 3000m steeplechase Africa and Commonwealth titleholder, Milcah Chemos, added: “This has been a good year for me and I cannot say I’m going there to win since all of us there will be looking to do the same. My aim is to do the best for my country.”

Kenya will depend on 96 legs to race to top honours in Daegu will the real belief that history will be made.