Athletics Kenya on Monday held their second round of consultative foram with athletics stakeholders to identify and resolve issues affecting the industry. The session was held in Bomet County and attended by hundreds of athletes from the region.
Most of those who spoke pointed out the need for more athletics training camps where they will also be educated on various ways to secure their future via education and investments in addition to sharpening their skills.
United States-based Emmanuel Rotich said efforts to uplift the standards of athletes can only be achieved if stakeholders work together and play their respective roles.
“We have great talents and the only way to develop them is to have more camps that will get support from the federation, county governments and national governments where education must also be factored in to make sure they go hand in hand,” the Tulane University, New Orleans, graduate said.
Rotich also suggested that AK establish a 24/7 toll-free line to enhance smooth communication between athletes and the federation.
He described the fora as timely especially in light of the recent misfortunes that have befallen athletes.
“We buried Agnes Tirop recently and the issues that were raised during the burial have been implemented because it was realized that athletes are suffering and the federation is already going round taking views which should be a start of solving a lot of problems affecting us,” he said.
Nathan Kipkurui, a former athlete, said that the federation should look into the selection formula during national trials, singling out the recent Masters Athletics trials held in Nyayo Stadium.
“The selection process should be rectified because it was not good to have 35-year-old compete against 65-year-old which was wrong because the younger athlete would take advantage of the old,” Kipkurui said.
He also said those from the grassroots level should be included in the national team because they better understand their athletes.
“Our athletes have been going through tough times and they normally come together and rent houses in one place and call camps. They pay rent for themselves and this will see many athletes go without food which will lead to others quitting the sport,” he added.
His sentiments were lauded by former 3,000m steeplechase Diamond League races champion Kipsiele Koech who said that athletes should be supported fully.
“Many will see athletes as if they are accomplished human beings with a lot of money but many are suffering for the lack of support. A few have been successful and many have been through hell. The federation should capture this and see how it will chip in and support the upcoming athletes,” said Kipsiele.He also pinpointed financial hardships as the major cause of mental health issues among many athletes.
The next forum shall be held in Kisii County on Tuesday.