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Debacles behind as Team Kenya coach Julius Kirwa says they are focused on the prize in Brazil

ATHLETICS By Bismarck Mutahi in Rio de Janeiro | August 10th 2016

Team Kenya’s track and field squad might not have had the best of welcomes when they arrived in Brazil, with the news that team manager Michael Rotich had been forced to go back home.

As if that was not enough, the plane tickets for world javelin champion Julius Yego and world 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi went missing as the team prepared to board their flight to Brazil via Angola.

However, head coach Julius Kirwa says all that is behind them now and their focus is on what they came to do in Brazil - winning medals.

“What happened to Rotich was an individual problem that will not affect us at all as we are ready for the competition and the athletes are focused only on training as they wait for the programme to begin on Friday,” Kirwa said at the Games Village yesterday.

He said they had their first training session on Monday after arriving on Sunday evening.

“It was important that we train to shake off some of the jet lag following the long flight from Nairobi,” Kirwa said.

He added that the weather was good and he had no complaints as the athletes were also happy with their first training session.

Kirwa also said he was happy that he had 10 coaches to work with at the games, which has not been the case.

“It is going to be good to work with the coaches as we discuss tactics that will help us take on the rest of the world,” he said.

To assist him with coaching, Kirwa has John Mwithiga (women's marathon), Gedion Chirchir (long distance), James Mutisya (middle distance), Joseph Mosonik (javelin), Richard Meto (men's marathon), John Anzrah (sprints), Nicholas Kilisio (women's steeplechase) and Boniface Tiren (men's steeplechase).



Kirwa also accepted the fact that his team would be under pressure to replicate their performance in last year's World Championships in Beijing, where Kenya finished top of the medals table.

“I know we will strive and perform as well as the team in Beijing last year but the Olympics is always different from the World Championships,” Kirwa said.

The head coach also confirmed that not all the track team members were in Brazil as some decided to arrive at later dates depending on their competition schedules in Rio.

“Asbel (Kiprop) will be coming tomorrow. He requested to stay behind for a few days because he did not want to be in Brazil too long before his races,” he said.

Kiprop, the world 1,500m champion, will be taking to the field next Tuesday. The athletics programme begins on Friday.

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