Asaba 2018:Why Kenyans emerged best

By Daily Sports on August 7, 2018

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Team Kenya coaches Stephen Mwaniki and Julius Kirwa are over the moon following Team Kenya’s ‘Top of Africa’ display at the just concluded continental championships in Asaba, Nigeria.

The two said it was one of the country’s sweetest feeling following calamitous first two of an eight-day stay in Nigeria.

Kirwa said: “There was very good communication and coordination system within the team and this was vital for us. With what we went through in the first few days, it would have been difficult for the athletes to perform the way they did.”

“The athletes followed our instructions and despite some falling by the way side, it was a performance to behold. They actually performed beyond expectations.”

With the World Championships and Olympic Games coming up in the next two years, Kirwa said it will be important for the country to start preparations early and with a bias in sprints and field events.

“Our sprinters performed very well while the field event athletes showed remarkable improvements. All we would want is for our federation to support them in becoming better performers at the bigger stage. As coaches, we are ready for the task,” added Kirwa.

Head coach, Mwaniki said it was difficult to understand how the athletes sprung to life as the championship grew, putting their well documented troubles in Nigeria at the back of their mind to give him a second golden performance in his second stint as head coach after the 2010 home championships.

“Our athletes had prepared very well on their way to Asaba but we met headwinds that destroyed our morale. It is interesting to see how the athletes reacted to our instructions and advise to put the country first and deliver the goodies,” said Mwaniki. “I led the team to top of Africa in 2010 and I’m glad I have done it again.”

“The focus now shifts to the IAAF World Championships in Doha next year and I hope they will build on this performance to return to the top of the world in four years.”

Team Kenya won a total of 19 medals including 11 gold, six silver and two bronze. South Africa were second with nine gold, 13 silver and eight bronze medals ahead of the host country who had nine gold six silver and five bronze medals.

Among the gold medallists were Edward Zakayo who now holds the world Under 18 and World U20 titles.

“When we arrived here, we faced many challenges but I took the challenge as my motivation to do well because I knew I was in top shape. I am glad with how Athletics Kenya handled me in the run up to these games. I was denied a chance to go for the IAAF Diamond League circuit and this helped a lot,” said Zakayo, a form three student at Kapsait Secondary School in Elgeyo Marakwet.

He added that he was happy to deliver a gold medal for the third time and he is now looking to partner Stanley Waithaka, the U-18 and U-20 silver medallist in future assignments to regain Kenya’s dominance in the discipline.

Kenyan runners are now looking ahead for the Continental Cup set for the Czech Republic next month. All the winners and second placed athletes will represent the continent at the championships provided they are not from the same country. In a case there are two or more from the same country on the podium, the closest athlete of different origin will be picked, as per the rules. (The Star,Kenya)

•Photo shows Kenya's Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto

Source Daily Sports

Posted August 7, 2018

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