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Kirwa concerned

Team Kenya to the 2017 World Athletics Championships head coach Julius Kirwa believes the country must shop for new talent in the 5000m and 10,000m after lukewarm performances in London last week.

Speaking on arrival from London yesterday, Kirwa said with only Paul Tanui getting bronze in the 25-lap race and Cyrus Ruto finishing last in the 5000m, it’s back to the drawing board for the long distance races.

“We must look around for new talent because we are struggling. If you remove Bedan Karoki, Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tanui who are the other athletes we can count on? There is none. It’s a growing concern for not only us coaches but the country,” said Kirwa.

He revealed that they had formulated a strategy to counter world and Olympic champion Mo Farah in the 10,000m but it didn’t materliase.

“We tried our best. I had instructed them to run at high pace but they became tired at some point and could not sustain it until the end,” observed Kirwa.

Athletics pundits have also noted with the concern that most Kenyan athletes tend to moveto road races too early.

Kenya last won gold in the 10,000m in 2001 at the World championships in Edmonton, Canada, via Charles Kamathi and last won the 5,000m in 2005 in Helsinki courtesy of Benjamin Limo.

Kirwa also blamed Beatrice Chepkoech of stifling team tactics in the 3,000m steeplechase, where Hyving Kiyeng lost her title to USA’s Emmy Coburn, managing a bronze medal.

“Chepkoech did not follow instructions. She was to stay ahead of Celliphine (Chepteek) in the early laps of the race to keep our other two runners fresh for the final laps. However, she ran her own race and you saw it on TV how eager she was and even missed the water jump at one point, which was sad,” added Kirwa.

He bemoaned the lack of new talent in the steeplechase with Olympic and world champion Conselsus Kipruto the only remaining prospect following the retirement of four time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto with Jairus Birech always struggling while on the big stage.

“I was happy that we won but going forward, we must get new talent. The gap between us and the rest of the world is narrowing fast and we must not always think we own the event,” added Kirwa.

However, he was pleased with the overall standings, where Kenya placed second with 11 medals. “I’m satisfied. The athletes did a good job despite the various challenges that we had like starting the camp late as well as injuries to our top medal prospects,” he observed.

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