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PRAISES TO HURDLERS: Sanchez tip Kenya to rival power house USA

ATHLETICS By Dennis Okeyo | January 25th 2017
From Left: Hurdlers Nicholas Bett, Boniface Mucheru Tumuti, Haron Koech and Kiprono Kosgei at Kasarani Stadium on Jan 24, 2017.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

Team Kenya’s performance at the 2015 World Championships and Rio Olympics in sprints took the world by surprise.

The country is more known for middle and long distance races.

Managers and agents who had given Kenyan sprinters a cold shoulder over the years are now showing interest, led by Jukka Harkonen, a Finnish track and field agent.

Jukka, who also handles the World Javelin champion Julius Yego, has now hired the services of two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez of Dominican Republic to fine tune his growing number of Kenyan hurdlers.

The four athletes, who include world champion Nicholas Bett, his brother Haron Koech, Olympics silver medallist Boniface Mucheru Tumuti and the newly drafted Kiprono Kosgei of Kenya Police Service, will be attached to Sanchez, whose biggest career came at the London 2012 Olympics when he won Gold medal at the age of 34 for switching to coaching.

The coach will be attached to the hurdlers in a two weeks training programme in Nairobi before shifting base to Dominican Republic mid next month.

“We are doing the technical session and the conditioning of these runners is very good. Been giving them a very difficult workout and they’re managing it very well. They are in good form, now I’m just giving them one hundred percent of normal plan and we will see how it goes” said Sanchez at Kasarani stadium yesterday.

He continued: “I never thought a Kenyan can run hurdles, never. I’m pretty sure nobody ever thought so, time is changing. The dominance of USA is ending, there are a variety of countries represented in the finals in the completions.

“Hurdles has changed over the years and it’s good to see new faces, and hopefully they Kenyans continue running well. These sprinters are proving now that you can come from Kenya and do well in difficult events like hurdles. They are leading the way in new talents coming from Kenya and I’m glad to be part of this progress,” Sanchez added.

His advice to sprinters is simply to stay motivated, focused and dedicated. Hurdles is demanding and as long as these guys are motivated they can have long careers.

The sprinters hope the quality of training they are getting and experience will propel them to greater performance in the forthcoming competitions.

“It’s great to be handled by such a great coach, his experience in hurdling is immense. We will maximise on Sanchez’s programme. We also hope to qualify for World Championship in London where I will be defending my title and that means Kenya will enter four hurdlers. Hope the four of us will qualify at the trials” said Bett.

Bett will be opening his season at the IAAF Shanghai Diamond League in May this year.

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