Kenya made two new important strides in athletics this year after sending teams to the inaugural World Relays Championships in Bahamas and World Mountain Running Competitions in Italy in May and September respectively.
The two maiden world championships appearance at Nassau and Casstte Di Massa was a big stride and a boost to Athletics Kenya in particular and the athletics fraternity in general as new horizons were opened to the surging number of athletes in the country.
At Nassau, Kenya’s performance in the inaugural relay was punctuated with three gold medals and two World records in the women and men’s 4 x 1,500metres where World champions Mercy Cherono and Asbel Kiprop anchored their respective teams to glory.
Although medals were elusive in the shorter relays, the quartet of Stephen Barasa, Carvin Nkanata, Tony Chirchir and Walter Moenga proved their maxim by setting a new national record of 1:22.35 with their middle distant brothers bagging the third gold medal in the 4 x800metres.
The inaugural World championship has presented the country with the opportunity of developing and fortifying her sprinting ability which has been eclipsed by the middle and long distant events that has provided Kenyan with the leverage in major championships.
That the relays competitions featured in organized weekend meetings with full sponsorships from mobile phone service provider Safaricom aided in exposing the teams to teamwork and the unofficial World record at Kasarani was affirmed by the two world mark realized during championship in Nassau.
The second inroad made by Athletics Kenya was the fielding of the first ever national team during the 31st World Mountain Running championship in Italy on September 14th.
Despite the characteristic dominancy by the Kenyans in the distant events including in the cross-country where John Ngugi, William Sigei, Paul Tergat, John Kibowen and Edith Masai made their names, the country has not been keen to venture into mountain running.
This year, The World Mountain Running Association requested for the inclusion of Kenyans in the 31st edition of the championship after staring performance by three Kenyans in the WMRA World Cup in Europe this year.
Although a full team could not be constituted within the short notice, Isaac Toroitich Kosgei, the winner of two Mountain World cup races in July, Francis Muigai Wangari, Lucy Wambui Murigi and Viola Jelagat were picked to represent the Kenya in the country’s debut in the World Mountain Running Championships.
Incidentally, the senior men races at the WMRA championship that is organized on the cross-country format, has been dominated by athletes from Ugandan who trains in Eldoret and Eritreans who have been overshadowed by their Ethiopian brothers on the track. On mission to
test the Kenyan might on the uphill runs, the four athletes paraded at Casstte Marble Quarry donning the national regalia and competed in the 8.4km and 11.7km senior women and men categories with mixed but positive signals.
Lucy Murigi proved Kenyans can carry their winning magic to any endurance event after finishing second for a silver medal after covering the mind-torturing rocky course in 47:49 behind five times champion Andrea Mayr from Austria who defended the title in 45:07.
Jelagat, in her second go at mountain run and first timer in Europe, finished in fifth place sending warning that she can improve her skills in the mountain run. Unfortunately as she could not field the stipulated number, Kenyan did not score of runners to make a team.
In the men’s 11.7kilometres, Kosgei and Wangari, who were winding up their summer competitions after staying in Europe for almost 3 months running, finished 16th and 97th after mixed competition miss-match.
With proper planning, exposure and focus, Kenya can take athletics a notch higher by entering full teams in the World Mountain Running Association Championships.
Athletics Kenya Media and Communications.