Voice of Sport

In Eldoret, youth battle for ‘Team Kenya’ places at IAAF WU18 Championships

Government says it has total commitment to sustainable high performance programmes starting right from school level – Sports Commissioner

Rare appearance: Peninah Akoth of Nyanza South’s youth training programme of Athletics Kenya throws to win the shot put at the Team Kenya pre-trials for the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Nairobi, July 12-13. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

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Future prospect … Sharon Mkite (11.01m) throws for second- placed at Team Kenya pre-trials on Thursday in Eldoret. Only three weeks ago, Sharon of Kwanza Girls’ High School in Trans-Nzoia County had a best throw of 9.0m after only a few days of training. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Future prospect … Sharon Mkite (11.01m) throws for second- place at Team Kenya pre-trials on Thursday in Eldoret. Only three weeks ago, Sharon of Kwanza Girls’ High School in Trans-Nzoia County had a best throw of 9.0m after only a few days of training. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

KENYANS started selecting their team for the IAAF World Athletics Champions in about 50 days time in Nairobi by holding highly charged pre-trials at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret County on Thursday which conclude this afternoon (Friday).

As hosts of the event between July 12 and 16, Kenya will be able to field the maximum entry of three in every event of a 21-event programme. Therefore, in technically demanding throws, jumps and hurdling where the big athletics nation (current world champions at senior level) mostly doesn’t feature, her youngsters, 17 years and below, who normally do not achieve the qualifying standards for major competitions, are excited at getting the wild cards to compete with the best in the world in July.

Elizabeth Wangari, placed third in the girls’ shot put hopes to make Kenya team for IAAF WU18 Championships, Nairobi 2017. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/wu18nairobi2017

Elizabeth Wangari, placed third in the girls’ shot put hopes to make Kenya team for IAAF WU18 Championships, Nairobi 2017. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/wu18nairobi2017

There were therefore, rare and massive entries in the throws, jumps, hurdling and the 100m and 200m for both boys and girls. And incidentally the biggest number was from Kenya’s Nyanza and Western regions, where marked success by the country, at least in the African Games and Commonwealth Games level, has traditionally come from.

canada goose On Thursday, the programme was mostly heats and in the sprints there were as many as four per event. The finals are today (Friday) and Athletics Kenya [AK] and the Local Organising Committee of IAAF WU18 Championships, Nairobi 2017 will have a fairly good idea of who will comprise Team Kenya. Then there will be final trials to select the actual team at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on June 12 and 13. The IAAF WU18 Championships will take place at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi’s northern suburbs.

At least in Africa Kenya has race walking reputation, including some men and women champions. Little barefoot Lena Wanjala, left (Western) and Mary Wangechi (Central) were 1-2 at Team Kenya pre-trials at Eldoret on Thursday and are virtually assured at being at the IAAF WU18 Championships in Nairobi. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

At least in Africa Kenya has race walking reputation, including some men and women champions. Little barefoot Lena Wanjala, left (Western) and Mary Wangechi (Central) were 1-2 at Team Kenya pre-trials at Eldoret on Thursday and are virtually assured at being at the IAAF WU18 Championships in Nairobi. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Of about 141 countries and 2,000 athletes and officials expected in Nairobi, some will arrive as early as 20 days before and hold preparations in Kenya. Germany and France sent advance parties to Nairobi to arrange for the training and accommodation venues long ago. The Athletes Village will be Kenyatta University a few kilometres from Kasarani.

The girls’ shot put final with eight seeking for Team Kenya places was one of the highlights on Thursday and official in charge, Elizabeth Olaba, a former African champion was all smiles, pleased to see passionate young talent and fairly strong young ladies competing.

Dorothy C Riyo throws the javelin (44.62m) for second place at the Team Kenya pre-trials on Thursday. Winner (47.7m) was Lydiah Chepkereker of St Eliza’s Kabichbich High School in West Pokot County. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Dorothy C Riyo throws the javelin (44.62m) for second place at the Team Kenya pre-trials on Thursday. Winner (47.7m) was Lydiah Chepkereker of St Eliza’s Kabichbich High School in West Pokot County. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Although the Championships qualifying mark for the rest of the world will be 15.40 metres, the Kenyan hopefuls, some who have been at the sport for only a few days and with minimum coaching threw a commendable 12.15m (for the winner Peninah Akoth of  Nyanza) and 11.01 for  second-placed Sharon Mkite of Kwanza Girls’ School in Trans-Nzoia County.

A few weeks ago, Sharon’s best throw was 9.0m but after a spate of April school holidays coaching sessions under Boniface Tiren at the Nasokol Girls Secondary Schools Athletics Camp, her improvement has been incredible. Elizabeth Wangari (10.52) also looked forward to her international debut with Team Kenya.

Many coaches and managers of youth camps in the country have said the country bustles with talent but that the top echelons of athletics authorities have always focused on the easier to manage middle and long distance running that the country is renowned. They said the WU18 Championships legacy will be future focus on the hitherto ignored disciplines.

Nicholas Leparan of Nairobi wins one of the boys’ 400m heats on Thursday. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Nicholas Leparan of Nairobi wins one of the boys’ 400m heats on Thursday. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

The entrants in the pre-trials were brought to Eldoret under the respective managements of AK’s regional organizations. In some of the regions, they have well-organized training camp programmes. Some regions are not that lucky and many “kids” and managers showed up at Eldoret and felt completely out of place next to those from the areas with better structures. There were grumbles of some areas being discriminated and the blame was directed to officials of the dominant AK regions.

Competition director of the “Pre-trials” is Barnabas Kitilit. Most organizations would be happy with the situation where everybody “wants in” to compete. The challenge for the organisers at Eldoret was that the event had overflowing interest and not everyone who showed up was catered for and complaints were the most predictable outcome.streaming movie Okja

Damaris Cheptabut (5.51m) of Nairobi was second in the girls’ long jump final. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Gloria Mulei  (5.73m) of Nairobi won the girls’ long jump final. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Damaris Cheptabut (5.51m) of Nairobi was second in the girls’ long jump final. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Damaris Cheptabut (5.51m) of Nairobi was second in the girls’ long jump final. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Acting Commissioner of Sport Maina Kamau is at the Eldoret meeting and describes as “diversionary and mischievous” allegations made by some AK official that the Kenya Government involvement to ensure Team Kenya will be a strong outfit in the Championships was wanting.

The criticism said that although the Government’s focus “has no doubt been on the upgrade of facilities [for the Championships] it was not doing enough for the youth who will fly the Kenyan flag”.

It went on to say: “It will be useless for us to host successful championships but trail the visitors on the medal standings.”

Kamau said that the Kenya Government has never been as supportive of sports programmes as at the moment. “These sentiments are completely erroneous. The Ministry of Sport, Culture and the Arts are putting in money directly, the Ministry of  Education puts in money, the Police are putting in money in athletics and sport, the Kenya Defence Forces are putting in money in athletics and other sports … that is all Government; that’s what people forget. Misguided individuals on the blame game prefer to isolate other department s of Government, narrow it to the Ministry of Sport and indeed to an individual. That’s fantasy; the Government is run by an individual”.

canada goose canada goose Kamau said the Government was very happy with AK’s model of  training camps and that it [Government] will commit to supporting a rolling programmes of county-based sports holiday camps for young athletes.

Agnes Nkumbi (126), for second place in the girls’ 400m heat 1 won by Sharon Jepkemoi, Sharon Jepleting was third. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Agnes Nkumbi (126), for second place in the girls’ 400m heat 1 won by Sharon Jepkemoi, Sharon Jepleting was third. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

At the pre-trials, talent was overflowing in Kenya’s traditional strengths – long sprints, middle and long distance – and the battle for final places goes to the wire in Nairobi at the Final trials.

But meanwhile, the beauty at Eldoret was the breathtaking dominance of South Nyanza, North Nyanza and Western region with the remarkable boys and girls including:

  • Mary Moraa (Nyanza South) 200m
  • Beatrice Anyango (Nyanza North) 200m
  • Roseline Nyambeki (Nyanza South) 200m
  • Irene Akinyi (Nyanza South) 200m
  • Philian Kerubo (Nyanza South) 100m
  • Phonten Keren (Nyanza South) 100m
  • Elijah Matayo (Nyanza South) 100m
  • Frederick Otieno (Nyanza North)
  • Vincent Okari (Nyanza South)

-(More reports after end of Friday programme…)

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and Athletics Kenya