Kenyan Sprinters Turn Focus on Worlds

World Relay 4x400m mixed relay bronze medallist Hellen Syombua is certain that Kenya can win the event at the World Championships planned from September 27 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar.

Syombua teamed up with Team captain Aaron Koech, Maureen Thomas and Jared Momanyi to hand Kenya bronze in the 4x400m mixed relay, losing the battle to United States and Canada.

Syombua is credited with the bronze performance after putting up strong third leg, rallying from sixth place to overtake Poland and Italy and handover to anchor Koech in third for bronze.

The results saw Kenya qualify for the Doha World event, where the mixed relay final will come on the third day, September 29.

"We should have won gold but I thank God for the bronze," said Syombua on Monday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival from the World Relay Championships held over the weekend in Yokohama, Japan.

"We shall be home and dry in Doha if we polish up on baton handling and how to spread our strength across the distance."

Syombua, the 2015 African Games 4x400m relay silver medallist, called for early preparations and urged Athletics Kenya to have more 4x400m men and women's relay teams qualify for Doha from elsewhere.

Head coach Stephen Mwaniki said Kenya winning its first medal in sprints at the World Relays is no mean achievement, adding that finishing fourth in men's 4x200 was fantastic.

"We only won medals from middle distance medals but we now have one in sprints," Mwaniki said. "We improved from seventh place fin the previous event to fourth now in 4x200m."

However, Mwaniki said Kenya will only improve in sprints with more programs in Athletics Kenya calendar and frequent exposure to international events.

"Failure to finish in women's 4x200m and disqualification in 2x2x400m after an athlete stepped on the line can only be addressed with exposure," said Mwaniki, adding that sprinters programs should start as early as January every year.

Mwaniki said having four athletes running under 21 seconds during the relay series and trials is a good indication that the country can develop credible sprinters.

Mwaniki also called on the county governments to support Athletics Kenya in its endeavours to develop athletics by improving facilities at their respective stadia.

Deputy team captain Dan Kiviasi called on Athletics Kenya to have a strategy for sprints in the country.

"Athletics Kenya have done well but they need to focus on what next," said Kiviasi. "We need more exposure, we need to host other countries for easy qualification to World events."

Athletics Kenya senior vice president Paul Mutwii disclosed that they will form a sprinters kitty as early as next month so as to develop short distances races in the country.

"We also want to convene a meeting for sprint coaches to enable us put up a national programme for sprinters," said Mutwii.

"Our target is to have more sprinters and relays team at 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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