Let us reclaim our dominance in major races

When former President Uhuru Kenyatta awarded Peris Chepchirchir the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) at Uhuru Gardens, during the 57th Jamhuri Day celebrations. [PCS]

This year's Athletics Kenya track and field season kicked off in Kisumu yesterday, which should herald our bid to reclaim key races we have lost at the global stage in recent years.

Athletics Kenya must get back to the drawing board with all stakeholders and come up with a winning strategy to reclaim dominance in events like 1,500m, 3,000m steeplechase and the marathon.

We should prepare well our athletes ahead of World Athletics Championships that run in Budapest, Hungary, on August 19-27.

We need a sober discussion even as we gnash our teeth over the disappointment at the World Championships in Oregon, USA, last year. But we can pick some positives from Oregon contest and last year's Commonwealth Games Birmingham, UK.

Kenyan fans have always questioned inadequate government support to athletics. As a country, we have neglected the goose that lays the eggs. Why are we losing in disciplines that were once our strongholds? Have we stopped nurturing raw talents and just sitting on our laurels?

Old fashioned coaching skills have been raised as a contributing factor to the decline. We should adopt modern methods and invest more resources in this goldmine that has given Kenya prominence globally for many decades.

For instance, why were there no Kenyan physiotherapists for our athletes in Oregon? This casual treatment of our world beaters has demoralised current and upcoming athletes.

Still, our athletes can produce better performance in Hungary if they embrace team work. It was heart-breaking to watch Kenyan men miss out in the medal bracket at the World Championships marathon.

Yet we rule the well-heeled big city marathons around the globe. The same script reads in the men's 1,500m, where despite fielding defending champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Abel Kipsang, who went into the championship as the fastest man in the race last year, we still failed to win a medal.

But, as a nation, we have a history of poor performances held in US and western Europe - which has been largely blamed on altitude and climate.

On the contrast, we have staged brilliant shows while competing in Asia -right from nine medals (five gold, two silver and two bronze) at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea; 1991 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, Japan, 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China; 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea; 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China and 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Kenya topped the medal standings at the Beijing worlds.

All said and done, let's hope the USA and western Europe ghosts will not spoil our party in Hungary, which is situated in Central Europe. Let's remain focused and strive for good performances in Budapest this August.