Last updated 1 month ago | By Ochieng Oyugi
Finally, the wait is over. Kenyan athletes can now breathe easy –after European Union gave them Schengen visas.
The squad, comprising 11 athletes, will undergo the final Covid-19 tests today before heading for the Diamond League meeting in Monaco set for Friday next week.
Kenya was omitted from the list of countries and regions whose citizens are allowed to travel into Schengen nations when the EU opened its borders last month.
Barnaba Korir, the Athletics Kenya executive member, confirmed the issuance of visas.
“We have been given the go ahead to take part in the Diamond League after lengthy talks. Our athletes will undergo the final Covid-19 tests tomorrow (today).
"We could have wished to have more athletes going for the series but again, when you look at the challenges we face, then one must appreciate the numbers that we have been given.
"For the athletes who have been issued with visas, they must also be tested for the virus 72 hours before departure," Korir said.
Yesterday, some of the athletes participated in a 1000m time trial competition at the Kericho Green Stadium in Kericho County.
Kumari Taki, the 2016 world 1500m champion, upstaged the reigning world indoor 800m champion Collins Kipruto in a 1000m time trial.
Taki posted 2:19.02 to win the race ahead of Kipruto (2:19.68) and Tony Kemboi (2:19.96).
“I am happy to be among the 11 Kenyan athletes who have been granted visas and I hope for the best in Monaco, he said.
Kipruto urged fellow athletes to adhere to the strict Covid-19 protocols that have been laid by the Diamond League organisers.
World 800m bronze medalist Ferguson Rotich, who did not compete but cheered from the stands, will also travel to Monaco.
Taki, who is on the waiting list, was optimistic he would get a visa in time to accompany the Kenyan squad.
Taki is happy to stage a comeback after taking a four months break.
"I want to thank my coach for making this race possible.
"I was not sure of winning on this tartan track since most of my training have been done on the rough terrains," he said.
The Kericho race was organised by coach Jacob Langat of Nyahururu Athletics Club, Gabriel Kiptanui of Kericho Teachers Training camp and Charles Mutai of Ngong Hills.
Langat said the trials couldn't have come at a better time now that there are no local and international meets.
"The year has been challenging. For us coaches, we can't even tell which athletes are ready for international contests," he said. Four-time Kenya Defence Forces 800m champion Nicholas Kiplagat was also in action.