G. Kiprotich: Aarhus performance is a wake up call in preparing teams
The Kenyan team to the World Cross Country Championships held in Denmark on Saturday arrived in the country Monday afternoon and despite finishing second behind eternal rivals Ethiopia in the overall rankings, a result not viewed as the best compared to the past editions.
In the biennial championships, Kenya hauled a total of two golds, three silver and three bronze medals. In the individual category however, Kenya bagged two golds and two bronze medals.
Although the second position is not the worst result in the world- especially considering that 67 countries participated in the global championships- when the dust settles, some valuable lessons must be learnt from Aarhus.
The Denmark course was really tough, that is what most of the viewers could see on their TV screens as the race proceeded which was later amplified by the athletes upon finishing the race.
“We had to go through difficult obstacles such as mud, water barriers and hills so it was a difficult course,” senior women champion Hellen Obiri noted.
Team manager Benjamin Njoga saluted Kenyan athletes for the medals won as he noted the difficulty of the course.
“I think in the history of Cross Country that was the most challenging course ever mounted. It was muddy, hilly and water in some sections. It was not easy but our athletes did their best to bring glory to this country,” said Njoga.
Head coach David Letting also noted that the nature of the course caught them unaware while also urging the federation to rethink the strategy in future competitions.
“For those of you who watched on TV you may have seen two hills but they were many which really affected our athletes. We learnt that Ethiopia and Uganda had sent scouts to inspect the course earlier and thus they had an advantage over us,” Letting said.
The national trials were held in a near- flat Eldoret Sports Club which pointed out that there was no idea that the Denmark course was totally different.
Government let down
The athletes may have not traveled earlier enough to have enough rest prior to their assignments with the team having left the country on Wednesday evening thus having a day to rest before the bruising battle.
Similarly, the conditions subjected to athletes are not any better from their departure where the air tickets arrived late to their return where they ha to sleep on the floors.
“It was unfair for athletes to be stranded for ten hours where we also had to sleep on the floors including myself,” said Athletics Kenya (AK) senior vice president Paul Mutwii.
Change in tactics
‘’Sometimes you need to lose so that you can point the areas to improve on’’- going by the words of Mr Mutwii- it clearly shows that a rethink in strategy is needed ahead of the next global event.
With Kenya having lost the senior medal to the fast-rising Uganda and the other three titles (junior men, mixed relay and overall title) to Ethiopia, a new approach is needed to counter the upsurge of the neighbors.