NAIROBI, September 3- Athletics Kenya (AK) has owned up to the marathon debacle at the Beijing World Championships by accepting full responsibility for the nation’s failure to win the men or women’s races for the first time since Osaka 2007.
Consequently, the federation declared they will change the selection and training programme for ultimate distance runners for future major events after the country’s much-heralded stars flopped in the humid heat of the Chinese capital.
Despite having a deep field in both categories, Kenya only managed silver in the women’s marathon in Beijing through a surprise medallist, Helah Kiprop, whilst the men’s cast that had world record holder, Dennis Kimetto and his predecessor, Wilson Kipsang, were nowhere close to the podium.
Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Ethiopia’s Mane Dibaba put the fancied Kenyans in the shade to capture the men and women marathon crowns at the 15th World Championships where the country ruled the world ahead of power houses, Jamaica and USA with 7 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze.
“We gave the marathoners free will without supervising them. We failed to look at the weather pattern and terrain of the country they were going to compete, so in future, the marathoners will be part of the team selected to represent the county in an international event.
“Team Managers and coaches must use current technology to know what is happening in the country they are going to compete and plan training venues then they prepare from that. The training structure has to change,” the long serving AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat charged.
“We take the responsibilities for whatever happened and take the blame squarely,” he added.
Team Manager for the triumphant Beijing squad, Joseph Kinyua, was disappointed with the marathon performance which could have seen them open the championships on a high if the experienced men’s team of Chicago and Berlin champion Kimetto, two-time London winner Kipsang and Paris titleholder, Mark Korir conquered the world.
“It could have been 10 gold medals but we lost the men’s marathon because of factors that I don’t want to go into details. The women did a wonderful job because finishing second, fourth and fifth is wonderful.
“They were capable of getting gold but with an Ethiopian who had done 2:19 and the London marathon winner, then we knew the challenge was there,” Kinyua explained.
Korir was the only finisher in the men’s marathon after limping home in 25th as the punishing heat proved to be a barrier too steep for the all-conquering Kenyans.
The country last won the men’s crown in 2011 when Abel Kirui defended it and there was great optimism the nation would reclaim the title from Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich who won in Moscow having beaten Kipsang and Kirui to the gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
The women’s quartet of two-time defending champion, Edna Kiplagat, Kiprop, Jemima Sumgong and Visiline Jeokesho at least had strong presence in the top ten.
Brave Kiprop who was out sprinted by Mane towards the tape hailed her team-mates for embracing team work that saw Sumgong miss the podium by a whisker as Kiplagat finished fifth.
“I congratulate my colleagues for the team work; it really helped us and I’m happy to win silver which I didn’t expect. It will motivate me as I target gold in next year’s Olympics if selected.
“Towards the end it was not easy, I tried my best to catch up with the Ethiopian but he had more energy than me,” Kiprop who won her first international medal, told Capital Sport.
The Marathon team started their training in advance where they camped at high altitude area in Iten with Isaac Kirwa handling the men’s team whilst Gilbert Koech, husband to Kiplagat managing the women’s team.