Kenyan runners must prove fitness before London Worlds: Coach

Nairobi, Nov 16 (IANS) Kenya’s athletics head coach Julius Kirwa has ruled that merit and current form will be the yardstick for selecting the team to the World Championships in London next year.

Kirwa, who guided Kenya to win the overall medal tally in Beijing last year, said on Tuesday that past record will do little to influence their selection and advised athletes to put in their best in the build-up to London 2017, reports Xinhua.

“We have a big pool of athletes to pick from. We have to do our selection right, listen to the athletes’ demands and harmonise their training with what we want. But we have a hard time ahead because we are the champions and everyone will be out to tame us,” he said from Eldoret.

Athletics Kenya appointed coaches and managers for national teams on Monday and Kirwa was happy to retain his position and faces one of the hardest tasks in his career to lead the country in defence of the over seven gold medals it won in Beijing.

Alongside Beijing, Kirwa was also instrumental in guiding the team to victory, especially in track and field races, at the Rio Olympics in August.

Kenya Prisons chief Nicholas Maswai was named the team manager for the London 2017.

However, in a bid to draft in past athletes, the management has also brought in former 800 metres runner Juma Ndiwa to take charge of the World Cross Country team.

Kenya also won this event in 2015 in Guiyang, China and will expecting a formidable challenge from Eritrea, Ethiopia and host Uganda when the championships are held on March 26 in Kampala. Evans Bosire, the Athletics Kenya Public Relations officer, will serve as the team manager to the Kampala event.

The team for the World Relays in April in Nassau has George Macharia as head coach and Abraham Mutai as team manager while Gikonyo Kariuki will be the head coach for the World U18 Championships team at the home event with Barnabas Kitili serving as the team manager.

Meanwhile, Sally Kipyego, who won silver at the New York Marathon early this month, is keen on focusing on the marathon and will give up the chance to compete at the 10,000m in London 2017.

“I still plan on running a few track races, but I believe it’s time for me to transition to the marathon. It’s early to be sure but I think I will likely run a spring marathon,” she said.