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Kenyan athletes now kiss goodbye Tokyo relay slots

Kenya's shuttle hurdles relay team from left; Wiseman Mukhobe, Michael Musyoka, Rukia Nusra and Priscilla Tabunda. [Courtesy]

National team posts fair show at the two-day World Relay Championships in Poland.

They trained hard, nursed huge dreams of flying the national colours in sprint races at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan but their hopes were crash-landed a few minutes after take-off.

Kenya’s performance at the World Relay Championships that ended in Silesia, Poland, last night were slightly below par.

The team left for the outing with lofty dreams: to secure Olympic qualifying marks in men’s 4x400m and women’s 4x400m. It never came to pass as they finished last in the first rounds.

The women’s 4x400m splits came as Gladys Nthenya posted 54.67 seconds, Veronica Mutua (54.61) as Sylvia Chesebe (55.11) and Mary Moraa (54.05) posted slower times in the duel.

The same results were recorded in men’s 4x400m with Stanley Kieti setting 48.52, William (48.37), David Sanayek (47.01) and Kevin Tonui returning 46.89. 

Hillary Wesonga, a sprint coach, says tacticians made the wrong choice by mixing the athletes, which saw them lose time while passing the baton.

“We need to save seconds while passing the baton to the next sprinter and not just waiting for it. It should be a swift move,” said Wesonga.

On the shuttle relay, Wesonga said: “If you watched carefully, you could see our athletes were cautious not to make mistakes but they were too slow off the blocks. That’s why they settled for bronze.”

Stephen Mwaniki, a renowned sprint coach, said the shuttle relays were technically flawless and there is need for investment in them.

“On what happened, I can’t comment because I was not part of the traveling team. I left our training camp at Kasarani two weeks before our team left for Poland,” he said.

Meanwhile, there was success for the host nation Poland with Joanna Jozwik and Patryk Dobek teaming up to win the 2x2x400m.

It was the first of two finals at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow on Saturday, with Germany winning the shuttle hurdles relay ­and a whole host of competitive 4x100m and 4x400m heats taking place.

With two athletes taking it in turns to run their two 400m legs, the 2x2x400m is an event which favours the middle-distance athletes rather than sprinters but in Dobek the host nation had a bit of both.

Previously better known as a 400m hurdler, the 27-year-old has stepped up to the 800m this year in superb style, winning the European indoor title in just his fourth competition at the distance.

May 1, 2021 Poland's Kornelia Lesiewicz, Ma?gorzata Ho?ub-Kowalik, Kinga Gacka and Natalia Kaczmarek [REUTERS]

In Silesia, he was joined by his European Indoors teammate Jozwik, who claimed 800m silver in Torun, and together they powered to victory on home soil, clocking 3:40.92.

After a conservative start, Kenya were narrowly ahead after the first lap, with Naomi Korir handing the baton to world 800m silver medallist Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich and Jozwik passing on to Dobek.

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