Our investment in youth development bearing fruit

Stanley Waithaka Mburu

Silver medallist Kenya's Stanley Waithaka Mburu poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's 10,000m during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on July 17, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Ben Stansall | AFP

What you need to know:

  • For many years, one of the core objectives of Athletics Kenya has been to identify and nurture promising runners at a young age, monitoring their development to the point that they transition to the senior ranks. 

If there’s one positive to pick from the just-ended World Championships in Oregon, it is the emergence of promising talents who honed their skills at the youth and junior levels.

For many years, one of the core objectives of Athletics Kenya has been to identify and nurture promising runners at a young age, monitoring their development to the point that they transition to the senior ranks. 

The nurturing does not only focus on the athletics aspect, but also to mould these talents into responsible citizens who impact their local communities for the better, beginning from their families. 

This April, hundreds of youngsters and juniors were domiciled in 26 camps across the country where they were sharpened in readiness for the World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.

It was the second such initiative after another one during the Covid-19 period during which athletes across the country were provided with resources needed to prepare for last year’s championship at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

The results were all there to see as our juniors achieved the largest medal haul at the under 20 level – 16 medals.

Like a proud father seeing his son make it big, it was indeed a source of pride to see some of these juniors who have excelled at the junior level shine in Oregon.

Beatrice Chebet (World 5,000m silver medalist), Emmanuel Wanyonyi (World 800m finalist) and Stanley Mburu (World 10,000m silver medallist) are evidence of the validity of the saying samaki mkunje angali mbichi (You can only fold a fish while its raw).

It shows that a holistic approach to talent development culminates in a seamless transition to the senior level and the development of passionate, patriotic and persistent athletes keen to fly the national flag high at whatever opportunity.

Going forward, as a federation, we intend to intensify efforts to identify and nurture promising talent. We continue to liaise with our officials and coaches at the grassroots in pursuit of this.

They are our ears and eyes on the ground to tap these promising starlets. 

Special thanks to the different schools and the Ministry of Education officials who have supported us in this venture. 

Noteworthy, our team for this year’s World Under-20 Championships departs the country for Colombia on Saturday.

With the rigorous preps we have put in place, we are optimistic they will tighten Kenya’s grip on our crown as world under-20 champions. 

We are hopeful  most of them — if not all — will feature at next year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Korir is the Chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch. [email protected]

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