Team Kenya head coach Kirwa predicts vicious rivalry
National athletics coach Julius Kirwa is expecting a titanic battle between Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes at the Nairobi Continental Tour Gold meeting dubbed Kip Keino Classic set for Saturday at Nyayo Stadium.
Kirwa identified the men’s 5,000m clash as an event for the creme-de-la- creme where Kenyan youngsters will aim to reign supreme at home, especially given the long standing rivalry between the two countries over the distance.
This even comes as world 5,000m winner Edris Muktar and silver medallist Selemon Barega pulled out of the classic on Tuesday.
Kirwa is upbeat youngsters Jacob Krop and Nicholas Kimeli who clocked a world leading and personal best times of 26:58.97 at the House Spike meet in Norway two weeks ago to put a good show.
“It is unfortunate Barega who concluded his season in Doha last week as well as Muktar who is injured will not be running in Kenya.
It could have been pleasing to see them against our upcoming athletes,” said Kirwa.
Kirwa says the absence of some of the big name athletes will not take the shine away from the meet which is the seventh and the final leg in the inaugural World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series.
“From the coach’s point of view, I can say preparations are in top gear even as athletes from foreign countries jet in for the global event.
We expect a good day on Saturday,” added Kirwa on the event that has already attracted athletes from 32 countries.
Meanwhile, meet director Barnaba Korir said with foreign athletes already started arriving, they are all being subjected to safety protocols developed by the Ministry of Health and World Athletics to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Everything is in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the event including our visitors as we are going to ensure the implementation of the developed protocols including the testing of athletes within 72 hours as required,” said Korir who noted that the event had attracted over 155 athletes from different parts of the world including the local participants.