Why Kenyan coaches remain uncertain about bagging steeplechase medals in Olympic Games

ATHLETICS Why Kenyan coaches remain uncertain about bagging steeplechase medals in Olympic Games

Abigael Wafula 07:05 - 30.10.2023

Kenyan coaches are scratching their heads concerning the chances of Kenya medalling in the steeplechase at the Olympic Games next year.

Kenya was once known to be a steeplechase powerhouse during the era of Ezekiel Kemboi but things have started shifting gears slowly ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris, France.

The women’s world record over the distance is held by a Kenyan, Beatrice Chepkoech, but the World 3000m SC silver medallist has been battling a series of injuries and she just returned to competition this season.

However, the title reclamation over the distance seems like an uphill task owing to the presence of potential threats including Winfred Yavi who has been in impeccable form the whole of 2023 and she will be keen to continue the hot streak next year. 

Ethiopians are also coming up, with plenty of youngsters who just need training to smoothen off their rough edges.

The men are also facing numerous challenges since most potential athletes have not been performing well in the just concluded season. The mantle has now been taken over by Moroccans and Ethiopians and it will take time before Kenyans take charge again.

Speaking to The Star, coach Boniface Tiren insisted that the steeplechase is a very technical race and needs a lot of courage and technique compared to the other flat track races.

“The event is introduced at the regional level with the majority transitioning from the 1,500m and 5,000m to the seven-and-a-half lap event.

"The 3,000m steeplechase is a very technical event, which requires a very technical coach, especially at the introductory level. It is an event where one must develop courage unlike in the 1,500m, 5,000, and even 10,000m.

"The athlete has to understand the risks involved including hitting the barrier, falling, or colliding with other competitors at the water jump. One must attack the barrier and land in a good way,” he explained.

On his part, Alex Sang who is also Mary Moraa’s coach explained that steeplechase running is more complicated and technical than many may think.

“Let us just say steeplechase is a painful event. One must calculate well and run with his head. This is because one feels the ground whenever he or she is running and pain each time you are landing.

"Steeplechase runners apply more while competing compared to runners competing in a flat race. Barriers are very exhausting and the body tends to get used to this kind of running.

"There is also the issue of age. By the time someone is retiring from the race, it becomes so hard to venture into other interests (distances),” he explained.

As Team Kenya gears up for the Olympic Games in Paris, France next year, fingers will be crossed for athletes to come back with medals over the 3000m Steeplechase since potential threats are not resting on their laurels.

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