The performance of Kenya's 4x400 metres men's and women's relay teams at this weekend's IAAF World Relays Championships in Bahamas will determine whether Kenya will field sprints teams at the IAAF World Championships in London.
Sprints coach Steve Mwaniki on Wednesday said besides targeting victories in other events, their focus will be on having the 4x400m teams reach their respective finals so as to automatically qualify for the World Championships that will be held from August 4 to 13 at the Olympic Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Park, London.
Mwaniki spoke before Team Kenya's departure, aboard Emirates Airlines, for the two-day World Relays Championships at the Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau.
Kenya will field a women's team for the first time while the men's team is making their third appearance, having failed to qualify for the final in the 2014 and 2015 editions. They were disqualified in final 'B' after starting outside the allowed zone at the last championships.
Kenya failed to field relays teams at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing and at last year's Rio Olympic Games after athletes failed to attain the qualifying times.
"We have done all we could to prepare the teams in all categories and the athletes are ready to run," said Mwaniki. "We shall be satisfied if our 4x400m teams make the finals."
Head coach George Macharia declared that his team was ready to conquer all in Bahamas.
"The teams are ready and in great shape. Expectations are high," said Macharia, adding that he has addressed the baton handling and change zone menace which has been a challenge.
READY TO ROAR
Macharia is confident that the men's 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x800m teams will erase the memories from 2015 World Relays held in Nassau.
"The bad history can only be erased by an extra ordinary performance and that is what the athletes are going for," said Macharia.
"They have learnt from their mistakes and the good thing is that some of them are back in the team."
"We have tried to synchronise the training especially in 4x400m and our athletes are good to go," said Macharia, adding that team captain Mike Mokamba, who is the reigning national 100m and 200m champion, will double in 4x200m and 4x400m.
Timothy Kitum, who is in the 4x800m team, will act as a reserve in the 4x400m team.
"It feels great and it's a big honour to lead Team Kenya," said Mokamba, whose father Elkana Nyangau is also a coach in the team.
"We have polished all the grey areas like baton techniques and change zone hence Kenyans should expect medals from us."
Deputy team captain Sylvia Chesebe, who is making her third appearance for Kenya at the World Relays, said there will be no disappointment in women and men's 4x800m. "There should be no worry this time since our target is a podium place in all categories," said Chesebe.
Kenya only got two silver medals from medley relay in 2015 but the event has since been replaced by mixed 4x400m relays.
4x200m: Collins Omae, Ferdinand Omanyala, Peter Mwai, Mike Mokamba, Mark Otieno
4x400m: Alphas Kishoyian, Boniface Mweresa, Geoffrey Kiprotich, Mike Mokamba
4x800m: Kipyegon Bett, Ferguson Rotich, Alfred Kipketer, Cornelius Tuwei, Timothy Kitum
2x200m: Maximilla Emali, Damaris Akoth, Peris Chege, Patricia Isichi, Mary Tanui
4x400m: Jacinta Shikanda, Veronica Mutua, Grace Kidake, Everline Makena, Catherine Nandi
4x800m: Emily Cherotich, Sylvia Chesebe, Josephine Chelagat, Mary Kuria, Eglay Nalianya
4x400m mix relay: Alphas Kishoyian, Boniface Mweresa, Geoffrey Kiprotich, Daisy Komen, Betty Chelagat
George Macharia (head coach), Steven Mwaniki (deputy head coach), Elkana Nyangau (deputy head coach), Joyce Odhiambo (Chaperone)