Things looking up for athletics despite Covid challenges

Kibiwott Kandie

World half marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) senior men cross country title at the Moi Air Base on January 29, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • For the last few weeks, we have had cross country at various points and I must say things are shaping up nicely.

I like the way things are shaping up in the athletics circles amid hope that Covid-19 will soon be a thing of the past.

We all agree that things have been tough for athletes in the last one year, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, and with events in full gear at the moment, we can only hope for the best.

For the last few weeks, we have had cross country at various points and I must say things are shaping up nicely.

The National Police Service Cross Country Championships and the Kenya Defence Forces meet were the latest events and whatever happened gives us hope again as a country that things will go back to normal sooner than earlier anticipated.

The athletes are also showing their thirst for action again and despite the Covid-19 restrictions, fans are eager to attend while observing the protocols.

The participation of former world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor in the Police show and world record holder Kibiwott Kandie’s performance at the KDF event just goes to explain how much the fraternity wants to go back to action again.

The regional and county events have equally been very interesting with newcomers occasionally reigning supreme.

The Discovery cross country championships in Eldoret last weekend were another proof of how the country is endowed with talent from as young as nine years. At Athletics Kenya, where I am the youth development chairman, it gives us hope that we can still continue ruling the field as super powers.

As the National Cross Country Championships and Trials draw nearer, we hope our boys and girls will not only be using the event to seek slots for Africa Cross Country Championships in May, but also as a build up for the Olympic Games in July.

We can’t wait to see how athletes will perform after 10 months of little or no action.

As a country, we know that coronavirus is not about to clear any time soon but we will have to learn to live with it if we are to save both the sport and the athletes.

Cross country, as coaches will agree, is always a good build-up for track and field and to embrace the event going forward.

After cross country, we have a calendar in place for the rest of the season and I hope athletes who have lost hope can maximise on the opportunity to save their careers.

Meanwhile, the recent tour of sports facilities in the Rift Valley by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed was, to say the least, not only encouraging but also very inspiring.

Her assurance and ultimatums to contractors to finish up the job or be shown the door was met with excitement in the sports circles amid hope once again that things will work out this time round.

Unscrupulous contractors

It is an open secret that we have sang this song of stadia for a long time and it’s time we finalized the works.

There is no doubt that athletes and other sportsmen are suffering and have in the past been forced to travel long distances to get services at the expense of unscrupulous contractors.

We hope this matter will this time round be settled once and for all to enable us focus on other things.

It is unfortunate that we have push such facilities to serve major championships like Olympics and not for the sake of new talent. I remember the last time Kip Keino Stadium was in focus was in 2016 during the Rio Olympics Trials.

The truth of the matter is that we need proper venues if we are to continue churning our new talent and competing neck-to neck with other top nations internationally. 

I must say I liked the tone of the CS Amina when she told the contractors to either shape up or ship out.

It is time the local contractors borrowed a leaf from their Chinese counterparts who do not start what they cannot finish. 

Perhaps it is high time we engaged the Chinese firms in as far as sports facilities are concerned in order to get things moving. After all, they have a history with the Moi International Sports Centre that remains the main facility for the country 35 years on.

We just need to take responsibility as a country and not wait for officers in charge to push for things to happen.

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

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