@MikeOkinyi in Tokyo, Japan
Kenya’s Olympic athletes are set to produce powerful performances in Tokyo, coach Ben Ouma has said adding that athletes are fired up for the July 23 to August 8 showpiece.
Team Kenya is sending a formidable squad for the Summer Games that also includes world beaters such as the marathon world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei.
Also among the Olympians will be sprinters Ferdinand Omanyala (100m), Mark Otieno (100m) and Hellen Syombua (400m), who Ouma backs to shine in the Japanese capital.
“Championship races are quiet demanding because you have to go through the heats semis and finals, people run conservative.
“But I know majority of our athletes are hungry to run and are having a lot of energy. This is one race that yes, the current affairs (covid) is laden with a lot of uncertainty. Again in terms of performance as well, we don’t know very much,” he said.
He added, ”we will see on the day when the heats start and the semis into the finals, that’s when you can churn out the favourite and you can give prediction as to who is destined to win what kind of medal. So far every individual is for himself save for the few analysis and assessments we have seen in races.”
Ouma says for the first team there is a lot of cooperation from different quarters led by the Cabinet Secretary for Sport Amina Mohammed, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and all stakeholders.
“I’m happy team Kenya is preparing very well even back home headed by coach Kirwa and team sport management as well. The physios, we have seen nutritionists, psychologists with us, we have sports scientists as well doing the check-ups, giving us very pretty conjecture which is anchoring out training.
“And that is what we are using to set up our programme. And if you have realised, there are very minimal if not, there are no injuries except few negligible here and there,“ he said.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted the sports calendar, a lot of international events are lined up between 2022 and the next Olympics in 2024.
All are important milestones for any athletes who wishes to have a stellar collection of medals while still at their peak.
“I know the greedy ones will fall along the way, but those having short and long term goals will carry the day. So it is about planning and this now requires a system in every set up. An athlete-this is a profession, this is the company you are running, so definitely there are priorities of which events to go for,” Ouma said.
He observes that, “if you have been to the world championship several times you may choose to try something else. Some of them are going to drop some races which are perceived according to them, to be not very important and go for the world championships, Olympics, world cross, such kind of challenges.”
Ouma who is with the sprinters at the Tokyo Olympic games has a word of advice for the athletes.
“It is about the balancing act and the athlete that you are. Remember we missed a whole season which went away wasted, so it is good we are going to recover that back.”
Ouma held his first session with 400m athlete, Hellen Syombua in Kurume. Syombua feels she has hit top gear at the moment.
“Today’s session has been good, I have enjoyed it coz the weather is also good and I feel the power in my body now. Now I’m ready and waiting for the races,” she says.
This is her second time in Japan in three years after participating in the 2019 world relays championships in Yokohama.
“Conditions in Kurume are favourable, not like Yokohama 2019. Training at home was also good, though it was very cold. This warm weather is very good for me, it favours me a lot,” said the national record holder.
Her session was mainly focussed on an area she feels she needs to up her game in the few days remaining before the Olympic games competition.
“Just the starting off the blocks and the first 30m to 40m of the race. The rest I’m good,”
She concluded cheekily.
Team physio Nassib Twaha has been busy since the athletes arrived in camp in Kasarani. The physios remarkable work has seen the team operate almost injury free.
“First week in Kurume has been well so far. It is a continuation of what we have been doing back home in Kasarani. The weather is ideal for competition and our role basically as physiotherapists in team Kenya is to ensure that while the intensity and frequency of preparation is hitting a notch higher, we ensure that there is minimal or zero injuries or any discomforts that would probably limit their performance. So far so good,” he said with a broad smile.
There are no injury worries in camp.
“Not as much, I think we had good preparation. Issues of hydration is important to ensure optimal balance. We knew exactly what we were coming into in Tokyo, very high temperatures.
“So we have always been insisting on optimal hydration and we are very glad that the coaching staff and the athletes themselves have taken this up very well. We have not had any soft tissue or muscular issues in relations to low levels of hydration,” he said in his final submission.
No more athletes are expected in Kurume, as the rest are now heading straight to Tokyo. The first team out of Kurume will be the national Volleyball team Malkia Strikers who head to Tokyo on Monday.
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