NAIROBI, July 10– Kenya’s next generation departs for the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia on Saturday with a stated target of bagging eight gold medals as they seek to lead the charts for the first time since 2009.
Deputy President, William Ruto, handed the squad of 26 the national flag on Friday with a message to go forth and conquer the world in the established tradition of Kenyan teams to international athletics events.
Veteran youth head coach, Robert Ngiserei who handled the classes of 1999 that included the likes of former double world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot and 2009 is aiming to return home with gold in 800m, 1500m, 3000m and 2000m steeplechase for both boys’ and girls’.
This will be a record performance at the history of the biennial showpiece open to athletes not younger than 16 and not older than 17.
At the inaugural edition in 1999, Ngiserei managed to bring home 10 medals, 5 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze in Bydgoszcz, Poland before improving the tally in 2009 when they made a stop where Kenyan minted14 medals; 6 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze in Bressanone, Italy.
“This is a good team and there is possibility we will top the table one again. The performance at the National Trials was extra good. All the athletes are very talented and going by the times they have recorded, this is an indication records will be broken.
“I have faith we will win gold in all our usual events but we will fight in others to ensure they are within the medal bracket,” the long serving coach declared.
The team of 26 has six African Youth champions including; Kipyegon Bett (men 800m), Kumari Taki (men 1500), Davis Kiplagat, Emily Chebet (3000m), Vincent Kiyegon, Sandrafelis Chebet (2000m s/c).
Athletics Kenya acting president, Lt. Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei, called on the team to give their best since they will be receiving the World Youth flag from the host country as they prepare to host the 2017 edition in Nairobi.
“We have already started preparations for 2017, the Local Organising Committee is working hard to ensure we have the required equipment so as we are heading to Cali go and show them that we are ready.
“I urge athletes not to overrun themselves, the coaches should take care of them and advice them on which races to compete,” Tuwei advised.
Kenya will be looking to better her 2013 outing where they finished second behind Jamaica with eight medals; 4 gold, 3 silver, 4 bronze.
The team will be seeking to defend the men’s 800m, 1500m (men), 3000m (women) and 2000m steeplechase (women) titles.