Monaco was great test for us, says Kirwa
National athletics head coach Julius Kirwa has commended Kenyan athletes after their impressive performance at Friday’s Monaco Diamond League.
Kirwa said as expected the first race was to help the coaches gauge the level of fitness of athletes after coronavirus disrupted the athletics calendar.
The athletics season resumed after over four months as the first meet was earlier scheduled for April 17 in Doha, Qatar, before the unprecedented spread of the virus.
Three Kenyans made top podium finishes with world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri setting a new meeting record of 14:22.12 ahead of world 10,000m silver medalist Letesenbet Gidey (14:26.57) with Laura Weightman taking the third position in 14:35.44.
World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot held off Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen when he clocked 4:28.45 to the Norwegian time of 3:28.68.
Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon won the women’s 1,000m in a time of 2:29.15 ahead of European champion Laura Muir (2:30.82) in a race world 800m champion Halimah Nakaayi finished fifth in 2:32.12.
Kirwa reiterated that due to the measures and protocols issued to curb the spread of the virus, athletes were not spared as athletics camps across the country were shut down thus leading to them to train individually without direct contact with their coaches.
Kirwa said he expects better in upcoming meets.“I am not worried that the margin of victory was not that huge in almost all races won by Kenyans.
My biggest victory is that our athletes were able to get to the track and compete,” Kirwa assessed.
He added, “Our athletes have suffered a lot since the start of the pandemic and I am happy that at last they were able to compete in such a manner. We were not able to send a big number to Monaco due to travel restrictions.
Hopefully more athletes will be cleared for upcoming legs.” After Monaco, action heads to Stockholm, Sweden on August 23, Lausanne, Switzerland on September 2, Brussels, Belgium, on September 4, which will be followed by Rome/Naples Italy on September 17, Doha, Qatar on September 25 as well as China leg on October 17.
“In steeplechase we had a depleted team with only world Under-20 silver medalist Leonard Bett clocking 8:08.78 behind winner Soufiane El Bakkali (8:08.04). I think it was a good show given that we didn’t have a strong contingent,” he added.
With major competitions planned for this year postponed to 2021, including the Olympic Games, the veteran tactician said they have to develop a delicate balancing act as they prepare athletes for the events.
Other events moved to 2021 include both the Africa Cross Country Championships and Africa Senior Athletics Championships while the World Cross Country Championships is also primed for next year.