Hectic season taking toll on Kenyan athletes as Worlds beckon

     Analysis, Gilbert Kiprotich

This year has been one of the busiest seasons for Kenyan athletes given the many local and international assignments they’ve so far taken part in in the 2018-2019 season.

The season kicked off with the Athletics Kenya (AK) Cross-Country circuit that culminated in the World Cross Country Championships held in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30.

Soon afterwards, the Relay series followed which finally culminated in the selection of Kenya’s team for the World Relay Championships held in Yokohama, Japan on May 11-12.

Thereafter, the focus shifted to the three Track and Field series that were held in Nyeri, Mumias and Narok respectively between May 4 and June 8.

Immediately after the Narok meet, athletes once again met at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani for the African Games trials held between June 20-22.

AK affiliates including disciplined forces – Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Police and Kenya Prisons Service – as well as regions would later retreat to select their teams for the national championships.

The nationals were eventually held from August 20-22 with some of the African Games-bound athletes having to board the plane to Morocco on August 23, the same night they concluded the nationals.

Although some of the big stars may have missed majority of the local races including the trials for African Games, they have also been engaged in Diamond Leagues or other races globally.

Although Kenya’s athletes at the African Games bagged 10 gold medals, seven silver and three bronze, the team struggled in some of the races notably the 10,000m for men and women.

Kenya’s head coach Julius Kirwa said it was almost impossible for Kenya to capture any medal in 10km especially with the national championships held in Nairobi used to select Kenya’s team to Doha being held a few days to the Games.

“We knew that it was not possible to get medals in 10km because these athletes just came from trials almost four days to this (African Games) championships. They didn’t have enough time for recovery,” said Kirwa.

After Rabat show, athletes now have a week to prepare for the trials to select team Kenya for the World Championships bar the 10k athletes whose trials were held during the national championships with the trials slated for September 12-13.

Thereafter, the selected athletes will prepare for the global showpiece which will take place in Doha, Qatar from September 28-October 6.

At the African Games, quite a number of athletes pulled out of their races citing different injuries an incident that also left Kirwa concerned.

“While we were coming here (Morocco) no one was complaining of injury but during the competition almost everyone had an injury. This is something we are going to look into when we return home because for me, I cannot tell it is up to the team doctors now to dwell on the issue,” he said.