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ANGER PERSISTS: Athletes blame coaches for failure in Bahamas, but AK defends team

By DENNIS OKEYO | May 7th 2015
From left; Distance Medley Relay silver medalists Timothy Cheruiyot, Abednego Chesebe and Sylvia Chesebe on arrival from JKIA from Nassau, Bahamas World Relay Championship on May 5, 2015.PHOTO/DENNIS OKEYO

The arrival of Team Kenya from the second edition World Relays Championships in Bahamas was characterised by blame game as athletes seemed to blame the technical bench for the below par performance.

Former Olympic champion, Wilfred Bungei appeared to blame coach Sammy Rono for the poor performance, in which Kenya finished seventh with no single gold medal. The team jetted back on Tuesday night.

Athletics watchers compared the team’s depressing performance which realised two silver medals to the 2005 World Championship in Helsinki where Kenya finished 10th after managing a single gold by Benjamin Limo in 5,000m, two silver and four bronze medals.

However, speaking on arrival, Athletics Kenya Chief Executive Isaac Mwangi and head coach Sammy Rono defended team’s performance, saying that even the upstarts should be given a chance to represent the country.

“We had a very inexperienced side and that reflected on the general outcome. But Kenyans should not always criticise everything. They should understand the circumstances under which we operate. We can’t force athletes to represent the country,” he said.

“Even elite athletes started from somewhere. We have learnt from this. We will be reconsidering our selection format,” said Mwangi.

The credibility of the coaching unit led by the veteran coach Rono was questioned after both men’s 4x800m and 4x200m were disqualified for violating the IAAF rule 170.7 (being outside the exchange zone) with former Olympic 800m champion Bungei saying coaches should be chosen according to merit, not favoritism.

“We are the powerhouse in athletics and this was a global event, meaning we had to take our top runners there to compete and saying the team was inexperienced should not be an excuse at all,” he said.

“AK has traditionally adopted a system of rewarding loyalty and not merit when selecting coaches and officials accompanying teams abroad and this has occasionally reflected on the end results,” said Bungei.

In defence, Rono said: “We only used what we had. Relays are highly technical events and making a mistake can be just a fraction of seconds. Even top sides like USA make mistakes,” he said.

The relay team missed the services of reigning Commonwealth Games champion Eunice Sum, Agatha Cheruto, Janeth Jepkosgei, among other, after they skipped the trials and were eventually barred by AK’s rules that state one has to participate in one of the AK’s meetings to qualify for the national trials.

The team later faced another hurdle after two-time 1,500m world champion Asbel Kiprop withdrew citing hamstring. But the team doctor and management said it was ‘political’ and Ronald Kwemoi failing to turn up for team’s residential camp at Kasarani.

The two are likely to face disciplinary action from the federation.

World Relays Championships have now been drafted into World Championship calendar and will take a break next year because of the Rio Olympics. It will resume in 2017 in Bahamas.

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