NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – Malkia Strikers head coach Paul Bitok believes the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics was a wise step, bearing in mind the current health status of the world and the inability of teams to train due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the games will be pushed to a date not later than the summer of 2021 after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with organizers this week expected to make a tentative announcement on a proposed date.
“It is a good thing that the Olympics have been postponed because we can clearly see the state the world is in because of the coronavirus. Also, it has been hard for teams to train so we were a bit worried had they decided to go on with the games,” Bitok told Capital Sport.
He added; “It is very hard for team sports because there are issues to do with coordination and symmetry. As much as we are training individually, there are things we have to do as a team to prepare. Otherwise we would have gone to the Olympics a very disjointed team.”
The tactician also says the postponement will give him more time to have a wider pool of players with those injured recovering, while also stating having the African Club Championships before hand will give his players more room to earn experience.
“There are players like Triza (Atuka) who are recovering from injury as well as Lorine Chebet who has just finished her training at the Prisons College. We will have more time to have them back and also more time to train together as a team,”
“We also have the Club Championships coming up before the Olympics and that will be a very good platform for the young players to gain experience at a competitive stage,” disclosed Bitok.
Malkia earned a ticket to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 when they won the five-nation African qualifiers in Yaounde, Cameroon earlier this year.
The tactician, who returned to the country after 10-years in Rwanda had organized some training program for the team which included a month in Kenya, another in a camp outside the country and three weeks in Tokyo to get ready for the games.
He still has similar plans in store despite the postponement of the games and the uncertainty on just how longer the world will be on lockdown due to the coronavirus.
However, he hopes that once everything goes back to normal, this same program will be funded as he looks to ensure the team is ready for its second appearance at the Olympics.
“We need to train at the high level and I hope the government will keep the same program that we had planned and presented to them,” Bitok says.
The tactician has enjoyed success since his return home, guiding the team to the African Games title and a ticket to the Olympics back to back.
At the Olympics, Kenya has been drawn in Pool A with hosts Japan, Serbia, Brazil, Korea, and The Dominican Republic.
While he waits for the world to get back to default settings, Bitok has urged his players to ensure they maintain individual fitness, disclosing he has sent out home work out routines for the players to follow to ensure their bodies remain in shape.