17 April 2018

Kenya: Coach Julius Kirwa Wants Selection Criteria Changed

Coach Julius Kirwa wants Athletics Kenya (AK) to stick to a 1-2 criteria with the third athlete gaining a wildcard in future selection process.

Kirwa said the process will help avoid having all fresh athletes making teams, which turns out to be detrimental to the country's performance at major championships.

Kirwa, who was one of the coaches in Team Kenya to the just ended Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, said AK must convene a strategic meeting to discuss Kenya's performance right from the 2016 Rio Olympics Games, 2017 London World Championships and Gold Coast "Club" Games."

Kirwa said that it's a high time AK and the government teamed up to set up high performance training camps across the country.

"The team had many newcomers who couldn't cope up with the stage fright in Gold Coast," said Kirwa, adding that AK should change its approach in dealing with elite and experienced athletes.

"AK and the government must find ways to remunerate or compensate athletes when it comes to big events," Kirwa explained.

"It goes down to money issues where athletes will rather focus on training for races where they will earn money than events like the Commonwealth Games."

Kirwa singled out marathon, where Kenya had to settle for weak teams after key athletes declined places in the team, opting to compete in good money races.

"Commonwealth Games came a bit early and in April when major marathon races are being held," said Kirwa.

"We needed to have used a different approach to lure top athletes."

Kirwa said that Uganda had two camps for their athletes hence they could tighten their dominance over Kenya if the country continues to sleep on its laurels.

Kirwa was speaking upon arrival from Gold Coast on Monday morning.

Chaperon Mary Chege concurred with Kirwa, saying AK must review the performance and come up with the way forward before its too late.

"We need to sit down, brainstorm, plan and put structures that will help us perform well at 2020 Tokyo Olympics," said Chege.

The 3,000m steeplechase athletes Cellphine Chespol and Purity Kirui were still in shock after losing to Aisha Praught-Leer from Jamaica during the final at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Chespol, who was fresh from winning the Africa Cross Country Championships in Algeria, settled for silver with Kirui, the defending champion, bagging the bronze.

"I still can't explain what happened... it's a race I want to forget pretty fast and focus on something else," said Kirui, adding that Praught-Leer wasn't new to them, having trained with Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, who stunned Kenya at the London World Championships last year.

"We ought to have studied her and every opponent well," said Kirui.

"My body simply failed to react and I could punish it further when Praught-Leer passed me," said Chespol, the World Junior champion.

"It's a big lesson to us."

Chespol, who is the national record holder, and Kirui now turn their focus to the Diamond League in Rome as well as the Africa Championships due August in Nigeria.

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