Kenya: Performances in Rabat Offer Hope, but Concern Over Injuries

29 August 2019

So far, so good at the African Games in Rabat. Two gold medals on the opening day and two others on Wednesday is quite encouraging.

And more were expected Wednesday night...

However, first things first, and congratulations are very much in order for Lilian Kasait (5,000m) and Benjamin Kigen (3,000m steeplechase), who handed the country the first gold medals.

Kudos too to our golden race walkers Emily Ngii and Samuel Gathimba.

The competition in the steeplechase and women's 5,000m was cut throat and I am glad we prevailed. Kasait was up against a battalion of Ethiopians who never gave her breathing space, while Kigen was a lone ranger left to face off with the Paris Diamond League winner Soufiane Elbakkali of Morocco and Ethiopia's Getnet Wale after the exit of Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto and Joash Kiplimo, who tripped earlier on in the race.

There is no doubt that this country is endowed with talent because after the exit of Conseslus, we all thought it was all over.

However, Kigen shot from the blues and pulled a surprise.

But the number of injuries we are having are also worrying and we need to go back to the drawing board and get to the bottom of the matter.

You can imagine we have only had a few finals and the number injuries are very high. This should be part of our review as we head to Doha next month for the World Championships.

I am surprised that, unlike in the past when we had taken the African Games for granted, this time round they are very competition and one can actually feel the tension.

However, as Africa, we have to start taking the organisation of the games seriously and make them count towards something.

Some of the athletes use the games as an option because they have no engagement and this is not good for both the athlete and the country.

I know those who pull good results in Rabat will be a handful for their counterparts during our trials and their chances of making the Doha squad are high.

This is the way to go.

Already, we have had individuals like Mary Moraa qualifying for the worlds in Rabat and that goes to demonstrate how competitive the event is.

We know this is a major opportunity for the sprinters and field athletes to chase the qualifying mark ahead of Doha and there can be no better forum.

This is considering that the fact that most west African sprinters equally use the games to make a cut for the same and why not capitalise on the situation.

For the rest of the athletes who are in action this week, I wish you all the best and God blessings and hope to see you at the trials.

Korir is the chairman of Athletics Kenya's nairobi branch. Barnaba Korir [email protected]

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