Robert Ngisirei, the head coach to Kenya’s 28 athletes’ squad to the World Under20 championship that will take place from July 10-15 in Tampere, Finland says that endurance is key to his charges reclaiming the team title they last won in 2010 when the event was held in Canada.
Ngisirei who has guided the team through residential training since June 17, at Kasarani for technical training and in Karura forest for speed and endurance training, has expressed confidence in the team posting good results in Finland if their health status remains.
“We have a good team with athletes who are technically good but we needed to work on endurance. We had to concentrate on healing and repair of worn muscles at first following the grueling qualification process after which we engaged them in rigorous endurance training in Karura” explained Ngiserei adding that endurance is crucial especially for athletes who are moving from the distances they took part in at the World Under18 competitions to new distances in the U20 competitions.
Top on the coach’s list of athletes who had to undergo thorough speed and insurance training areWorld Under18 3,000m silver medallist Edward Zakayo and his counterpart Stanley Waithaka who will be carrying Kenya’s hopes for gold in 5,000m in Finland. The duo will be up against Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega, the reigning world U18 3,000m champion.
“We faced Barega in Kasarani last year during the World U-18 championships and we know what to expect from him. We have prepared the two for tough battle not just against Barega but the field that they will face. With the kind of endurance and speed training these athletes have gone through, their competitors should expect fireworks,” expressed Ngisire.
Barega’s best time in 5,000m is 12:55.58 set during a diamond league race in Lausanne in 2017. He has already won two diamond leagues this year, in Eugene last month and then in Stockholm,and will be in action in Lausanne this weekend in what will be his final race before heading to Finland to defend his title over the same distance. Meanwhile, coach Ngisirei has confirmed that World Under 18 1,500m champion George Manangoi has fully recovered from his injury and he has managed the grief of losing his sister two weeks ago well and is ready for the championship. Manangoi will be accompanied by Justus Soget in the distance in what will be the latter’s first appearance on the world stage.
While acknowledging that a good number of the team members have competed outside the country and on the international stage before and did not need any pep talk, the head coach says he has prepared the debutants psychologically and has nothing to worry about.