Runner Korir urges Kenya to branch out to sprints, field events

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NAIROBI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- A retired Kenyan international athlete on Thursday called on the country's sports authorities to diversify in sprints and field events after Kenya proved its prowess in middle and long-distance events.

Barnaba Korir, who represented the athletics-mad East African nation in long distance events, said Kenya has nothing more to prove in the races it has dominated for years but should now cast its net wide in order to improve the medal tally during international competitions.

"Our sprinters performed well at the recently-concluded African Athletics Championship in Nigeria, whereas the field event athletes displayed remarkable improvements. As athletics stakeholders, we need to come together and find a way if how to take the team forward," Korir said.

The former 10,000m runner, who is in charge of youth development at Athletics Kenya, said options must be explored to take the sprints team to the next level and proposed that this can be done through training abroad in the best facilities.

"Now with the 2019 World Championships in Qatar and 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo looming, it's important for the country to start preparations early with a bias in sprints and field events," he noted.

During the continental event, Kenya won gold medals in javelin and 4x400m relays, whereas other sprinters performed exemplarily during the preliminary stages.

Seraphino Antao is the most celebrated Kenyan sprinter, having won gold medals in several international competitions in the pioneer days, and no other sprinter of worth surfaced until the 1990s when the duo of Joseph Gikonyo and Kennedy Ondieki hit the scene where they dominated the continental scene in 100m and 200m competitions.

Mike Mwaniki, the Kenya sprint coach, said Athletics Kenya has shifted strategy and now wants to produce world class sprinters by exposing them to regular to high-level competitions.

"Our performance in sprints has been undermined by lack of competition. It is in long distance where there are many races and hence stiff competition," Mwaniki said. Enditem

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