Confusion engulfed Team Kenya departure for Qatar

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019 00:00 |
Two-time winner Edna Rotich at JKIA before leaving for the 2017 World Championships in London. Kiplagat was among athletes who departed for this year’s edition in Doha, Qatar last night. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Confusion engulfed Team Kenya’s camp yesterday, just hours before their departure to Doha, Qatar for the September 27 to October 6  World Championships.

Blame-game was the order of the day over bungled travel arrangements after the entire contingent of athletes was booked for departure last midnight on a Doha-bound Qatar Airways.

This left most of the athletes seething as some, with events scheduled for October 5, were also booked to leave last night yet they needed more time to prepare.

Most of the athletes, especially middle distance runners, whose events start on October 2, will now have to make their own travel arrangements in line with event dates.

“It doesn’t make sense that I am made to travel way too early when my event is among the last according to the programme. I don’t know what the team manager and Athletics Kenya were doing,” said one of the athletes in the men’s 10,000m who sought anonymity for fear of discrimination.

Team captain Julius Yego, speaking on behalf of colleagues, challenged organisers to work within the programme for the benefit of the athletes.

“The conditions in Doha are very tough. It would be unfair to have athletes leave today. I urge the ministry to change the dates to favour the athletes whose events will be towards the end,” said Yego, whose ticket indicated he leaves last night despite his competition being on the penultimate day of the Championships.

However, Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia absolved his office from blame, pointing the finger at AK instead.

“We asked for the details two weeks in advance. What we were given are dates of departure and arrival. That is what we used to get the tickets. Changing the dates on the eve of departure will be very expensive,” said Kaberia.

“It is the work of Athletics Kenya to come up with travel arrangements which are then presented to the ministry. We should not blame the government for providing tickets, the problem is entirely with the federation and team manager, “ said one of the long distance coaches, who accussed AK senior vice-president Paul Mutwii, who also heads the competitions docket, and team Kenya manager Joseph Kiget.

Over 20 athletes were present during the Monday pre-departure meeting which was attended by Kaberia and AK officials.

Women’s marathon is the only final on the first day of competition and Kenya will be represented by two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat, Visiline Jepkesho and Ruth Chepng’etich.

“We want to set the precedent by performing well in our event which will act as a motivation to the rest of the Team Kenya,” said Kiplagat, winner in 2011 and 2013.

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