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Kenya must work hard to regain athletics footing

Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir, of Kenya, left, wins during a semifinal heat in the men's 800-meter run at the World Athletics Championships on Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Oregon. [AP Photo]

The 18th World Athletics Championships ended yesterday Oregon in USA. For the last two weeks, social media has been awash with criticism on the manner the national team was prepared in the run up to the championships. Kenyans blamed AK for poor talent nurturing, old-fashioned coaching skills and poor preparations. They also complained over inadequate government support to athletics.

It is sad that we continue losing key races that we have dominated for more than 50 years.

Take the men's 3,000m steeplechase, for example. Kenyan men have won 12 world titles, only missing out in four editions. That was in 1983 Helsinki, 1987 Rome, 2003 Saint-Denis in France and 2005 Helsinki, where Kenyan-born Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar won. He holds the men's world record in the event.

Ezekiel Kemboi won four world titles (2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015) while Moses Kiptanui won three crowns in 1991, 1993 and 1995. Kemboi has two Olympic titles while Kiptanui basks in a silver medal from the 1996 Olympics.

Kenya recorded three podium sweeps in 1997, 2007 and 2015 and bagged the 12th gold medal in 2019 in the history of the World Athletics Championships.

London (2017) and Doha (2019) worlds provided perfect evidence that Kenya’s performance in the race was waning steadily after we lost silver and bronze medals. Over and above, we lost it in Oregon. Conseslus Kipruto, the defending champion, managed a bronze medal. We are not sure if AK will take this huge loss seriously.

It was heart-breaking to watch Kenyan men miss out in the medal bracket in the marathon. Yet we rule the well-heeled big city marathons around the globe. The same is the case in the men’s 1500m where despite fielding defending champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Abel Kipsang, we still failed to win a medal.

The disappointment in Oregon has given us crucial talking points even as we shift attention to the Commonwealth Games that start in England tomorrow.

Athletics Kenya and all stakeholders must work hard to reclaim our athletics glory.