SECTIONS

Pick lessons from Kenyan squad to Oregon tourney

Carren Chebet (left) and Individual Fancy Cherono leading 3000m steeple chase pack during Athletics Kenya Trials for World Championships and Commonwealth Games at The Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani Stadium, June 25, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The 18th World Athletics Championships gets underway in Eugene, Oregon, USA on Friday next week. Kenyan sports fans will be up for an epic show. Majority will be glued to television sets, mobile phones and newspapers to follow the action, where our gallant star will be competing.

We expect the team to surpass the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China, where we won 16 medals – seven gold, six silver and three bronze – to take pole position. The Beijing outing stands out as the most successful World Championships for Kenya ever.

Kenyan men hope to make history in 5,000m and 10,000m races where the nation has not won gold medals for years. Benjamin Limo won Kenya's men's last 5,000m gold in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005 while Charles Kamathi won the last 10,000m in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001 – three years before Emmanuel Wanyonyi, a gold medal prospect in 800m at the Oregon meet, was born.

We hope to change this worrying trend and reclaim our turf. And the six athletes selected to compete in the two races have a mountain to climb against stiff challenge from Ugandans and Ethiopians. Nicholas Kimeli, Jacob Krop and Daniel Simiu will line up in 5,000m while Stanley Waithaka, Daniel Mateiko and Rodgers Kwemoi compete in 10,000m.

Our men's 3,000m steeplechase must be at their best stop Morocco's Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali and Ethiopia's silver medalist Lamecha Girma, who ended our 53 years of dominance in the race at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It will be no easy battle but we expect we expect a good performance now that we have representation in even 100m, which we last presented in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The team has a blend of youth and experience. 

We also hope Ferdinand Omanyala, the Africa 100m record holder, will put smiles on our faces by venturing into virgin grounds. Omanyala has changed our short races terrain with impressive shows against the world's fastest athletes. 

His efforts to make history as the first Kenyan to reach semifinals of men 100m at the Olympic Games deserve huge praise.

We give the young man thumbs up. It's now evident that Kenya is not only a power house of long distance runners - we have great potential in short distance races. He has beaten Olympic silver medalist Fred Kerley of US and former world silver medalist Yohanne Blake of Jamaica.

He proved critics wrong and it's interesting that AK nowadays put men's 100m race as the last event in major championships thanks to Omanyala's brilliant showing. Initially, the race appeared at 10am.

It is inspiring and we should pick lessons from Omanyala's feat and constantly look out for new talents and nurture them.