Going back to basics: Athletics Kenya comes up with Ksh64 million blueprint to regain lost steeplechase glory

© World Athletics.

ATHLETICS Going back to basics: Athletics Kenya comes up with Ksh64 million blueprint to regain lost steeplechase glory

Joel Omotto 06:09 - 25.08.2023

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba has revealed that AK has submitted a Ksh64m youth development plan aimed at unearthing talented runners who will help Kenya win steeplechase again.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has revealed that Athletics Kenya (AK) has come up with a blueprint that will help the country regain its lost glory in the steeplechase race.

Steeplechase was considered a ‘Kenyan race’ until the delayed 2020 Olympics when Sofiane El Bakkali won it, ending the country’s tradition that had stood since 1984, and the same happened the following year at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon when the Moroccan destroyed the field once more.

El Bakkali has asserted his authority again at this year’s World Championships in Budapest, Hungary when he won Tuesday’s race ahead of Ethiopian Lamecha Girma while Kenya could only manage bronze through Abraham Kibiwott.

Kibiwott stumbled while clearing the final barrier but still recovered to claim third place in 8:11.9 but it was not enough for Kenyans who have become accustomed to winning the steeplechase, where a clean sweep of the podium was a common occurrence during their glory days.

Kenya’s last steeplechase gold at the Worlds was delivered by two-time world champion Conseslus Kipruto in 2019. Kipruto took over the mantle from four-time winner Ezekiel Kemboi, who won it in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

The poor results have seen disappointed Kenyans question what is happening and Namwamba has now waded into the issue.

“We have lost a hold on some of the events where we have reigned supreme like the steeplechase we could only manage a bronze medal yesterday (Tuesday) during the final in Budapest,” Namwamba told Parliament on Wednesday.

“I have sat down with Athletics Kenya and challenged them to go back to the drawing board so that we can reclaim our glory in our traditional strong sports.

“After that engagement, Athletics Kenya has submitted to the ministry a blueprint for youth development requiring Ksh64 million, which is being considered, to go back to primary schools to go back to the basics.

“Steeplechase require special training and special equipment. The ministry has accepted to make a special investment for Kenya to bounce back in the steeplechase.”

A lack of succession plan, failure to embrace technology, and inadequate or non-existent sports facilities have been blamed for Kenya’s failure to maintain its steeplechase dominance at a time when rivals were putting in efforts to catch up.

Tables have now turned and it now looks like it will take a while before the country regains its lost glory. Namwamba, however, hopes the initiative will help unearth the next Kemboi, Conseslus, and Brimin Kipruto.