We may have finished second overall with 11 medals — five gold, two silvers and four bronze — but we surely need to go back to the drawing board if our performances in certain events are anything to go by.
But first things first, and I want to congratulate the entire team and especially the medallists for a job well done. But I am in total agreement with Team Kenya coach Julius Kirwa’s sentiments that we must go back to the drawing board and restrategise.
This is not because we have a bad team but because there are no young athletes coming through. In my view 5000m, 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase are the most affected.
Steeplechase especially, where we have dominated for years, is, to say the least, an “endangered race” and I am sure Americans will be trying to go a gear up after dominating the women’s 3,000m steeplechase and threatening Kenya’s interests in the men’s category.
As Kirwa correctly put it, lack of new talent in the steeplechase is a worrying trend with world champion Conselsus Kipruto the notable exception following the retirement of four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto.
We can’t bank much on Jairus Birech, who has lately blown hot and cold hence struggled for form on the big stage.
We must get new talent to replace Kemboi and Brimin, who have been around for approximately 15 years. The 10,000m has not been any different with Paul Tanui the only consistent athlete.
But as it is, there are no athletes to replace Bedan Karoki and Geoffrey Kamworor, who are likely to move to the roads.
I must admit that rising stars opting for the roads than track because of lack of 10,000m races especially in the Diamond League. In other words road races are the reason we don’t have long distance track runners.
The men’s 5,000m is no better although the three-time world 1,500m runner Asbel Kiprop is rumoured to be moving there.
Our best in 5,000m Cyrus Rutto placed last in the final and that in itself is statement enough about where we are.
We are lucky to have world champion Hellen Obiri in the 5,000m after moving from 1,500m — otherwise we would be speaking a similar language.
Kenya last won gold in the 10,000m at 2001 World Championships in Edmonton through Charles Kamathi and the 5,000m in 2005 in Helsinki courtesy of Benjamin Limo. As we head to the Commonwealth Games next year in April, we must step up a gear and ensure gaps in various events are covered.
Sprints and field events are the other events where we must step on the plate and be counted.