Athletics Athletics

Sprinters merit Beijing’s Worlds inclusion

Alphas Kishoiyan celebrates his men 400m at National Championships. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya
Alphas Kishoiyan celebrates his men 400m at National Championships. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, June 14 – National sprint head coach, Stephen Mwaniki hopes the four Kenyan records broken during the National Championships will be a wake-up call to Athletics Kenya (AK) to empower talent in short races.

Kenya is revered globally as a middle and long distance powerhouse but Mwaniki, believes the country has talented sprinters who can become world beaters only if they are exposed.

Besides the records, Mike Mokamba (men 200m/20.50), Joyce Zakari (women 400m/51.14) and Fransisca Koki (women 400m hurdles/55.82) beat the qualifying standards for the forthcoming IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Mokamba got to the record breaking act when he ran 10.23 in 100m that fell just short of the 10.16 Beijing entry time with Priscillah Tabunda who ran 14.08 in the women 100m Hurdles also failing to beat the Worlds mark of 13.00.

Other sprinters who have met qualifying standards ahead of the Beijing Trials are 2012 Africa bronze medallist, Boniface Mucheru and Nicholas Bett (men’s 400 hurdles), former Africa Junior bronze medallist, Alphas Kishoiyan and 2013 World Youth third finisher Alex Sampao (men’s 400m).

Mwaniki called on AK to actualise the proposed exchange programmes with sprint power house Jamaica saying it will help talented distance athletes realise their dream of making their mark on the global stage.

“We have always been presuming we don’t have sprinters but it has been proven and this is coming after Bahamas World Relays Championships because we started our preparations early.

“Hopefully the federation has seen what has happened in sprints, most of them have qualified for the world championships and we hope they will be selected during the national trials where we will have strong contenders,” Mwaniki, who is also the Kenya Prisons head coach asserted.

AK had made arrangements to have famed Jamaican sprint coach, Glen Mills, who trained among others, superstar, double Olympics and World champion, Usain Bolt but federation CEO, Isaac Mwangi, says they have turn to Germany for expertise.

“The four records that were broken show the strategy we have put in place is working. We have decided to put more effort in sprints; four coaches are attending the IAAF sprints level four course.

“We are working with partners to ensure we have a special training base for sprinters. We have a German consultant who has come to work with us and I believe with that kind of exposure, they will start performing well.

“The more they meet the qualifying standards for the international events the more we will enter them. We are not going to overlook the sprinters,” Mwangi told Capital Sport.

More athletes will be seeking to meet the qualifying mark when the national Beijing Trials will be held on August 31 and July 1 in Nairobi where USA based Carvin Nkanata who has a 20.14 season’ best in the men’s 200m also expected to fight for selection.

“I feel great to win both 100 and 200m titles, it’s a big boosts ahead of the Trials that will be tough since Nkanata will be available. I will be working on my start where I’m slow and if I improve on that, I will be capable to lower my 200m PB to 20.3.

“I need to test my capability in Africa,” Mokamba the son of former Kenyan sprint legend and his coach, Elikanah Nyang’au stated.

Despite running her 200m personal best when she clocked a hand timed 22.4, Zakari will not be competing in the race which is her speciality during the Trials, instead turning to 400m after breaking former Africa Champion Ruth Waithera’s 51.56 previous national record, when she returned 51.14.

Tabuda the women’s 100 hurdles record holder will be out to improve on her 14.08 Personal Best to meet13.00 Worlds qualifying mark.

“I can’t believe I’ve set a new record because we had strong competitors. I feel my hard work was not in vain. I want to lower it to 12.0,” Tabuda said.

During the last World Championships in Moscow, Russia, only Africa silver medallist, Maureen Jelagat and the men’s 4x400m relays team represented the country in the short distance events.