Top athletes missing in action at police meet

Published on 08/06/2009

By Mutwiri Mutuota

This year’s Kenya Police Inter Provincial championships were hampered by absence of the department’s biggest stars.

The two-day event that concluded at Nyayo Stadium on Saturday did not raise the thrills of last year where a star-studded line-up treated fans to a competitive sport fest.

Joyce Zachary (left) and Maryline Chelagat during the Kenya Police Championships 100m finals at Nyayo National Stadium at the weekend. [PHOTO/STAFFORD ONDEGO/STANDARD]

However, head coach, Nicholas Kilisio, was satisfied with the event, saying it was tailor made for the department’s fringe runners.

“We decided to give our top athletes permission to compete outside or prepare for the national championships.

This was to give upcoming runners a chance to show what they have got since it cannot always be about the big guys,” Kilisio told FeverPitch. Apart from the relays that were an obvious favourite with the crowd, only the men’s 5,000m race got supporters roaring where Sammy Kitwara won in 13:41.2 after edging a close contest for the finish.

slow pace

“I was not expecting to win since I was ready for someone to sprint past me for the finish. The pace was very slow which was not good for qualification to the World Championships,” Kitwara said.

No competitor managed to post A-Standard qualification for Berlin at the Police fete.

“We have many runners who have qualified for the World Championships and we are organising for those who have not done so to travel outside or do it at the nationals,” Kilisio said.

Regarding Commonwealth 10,000m women’s champion, Lucy Wambui Kabuu, who was surprisingly beaten to fifth in the 25-lap race, Kilisio disclosed she is suffering from a tendon injury.

“We have referred her to a physiotherapist and if she does not improve, we will take Kabuu to the doctor since we are keen to see her perform at the national championships,” the head coach said.

test mettle

Last year, Kabuu won the women’s 5,000m and 10,000m races at the Trials to Beijing to make the national squad for the latter. The event gave a platform for young stars such as World 10,000m junior champion, Josphat Bett and silver medallist, Titus Mbishei to test their mettle with seniors.

“I now have an idea of how to compete with them. It was tough but with training, I can contest to be in the senior team for Berlin,” Mbishei, who ran 28:17.6 for third in the 10,000m race said. Bett clocked 13:41.7 for similar placing in the 5,000m race. Like at the Armed Forces and Prisons championships that preceded the Police event, sprint and field competitions continued to disappoint.

With the country’s electronic timing device once again failing to work, most short distance runners at the Police fete decided to conserve their energies.

Last week, Athletics Kenya (AK) secretary general, David Okeyo said the device did not work at the Armed Forces championships due to lack of power. Why it failed at Prisons and Police events is yet to be explained but it is being said a vital part has malfunctioned and needs replacement.

With the national championships due from June 25 to 27, lack of this vital device could cost some athletes, especially in sprints who have been training for Berlin the chance to compete for their country.

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