Two-time World Athletics championships marathon champion Abel Kirui has urged Kenyan marathoners not to sleep but work hard to reclaim the championships record that was taken by Ethiopian Tamirat Tola.
Tola broke the championships record set by Kirui during the 2009 World championships in Berlin when he clocked 2:06.54 but it was lowered to 2:05.36.
“My world marathon championships record has been broken after thirteen years, but I was not bothered so much but we need to bring the record back. The record has been broken, gone to Ethiopia but as Kenyans we must not sleep, we need this record back,” he said.
The former Olympic Games marathon silver medalist missed to represent Kenya because he was not selected in the team to represent the country.
“All in all, the championships were good and I was pleased by the results in Oregon being number four in the world is not easy thing. Having competed and won two times, it is not an easy task because
each athlete prepares 100% for the championships,” he said.
However, he addressed some technicalities that Athletics Kenya should handle to avoid future challenges for athletes like early preparations, psychology, moral support, visa challenges so that they are composed for their minds to be ready “For an athlete to produce good results, we need to have six months of preparations. I wish we could have early selection and early preparations. These two months’ selections to the world event can’t have good results. If you talk to Eliud Kipchoge on how he started his preparations, it took him longer than expected,” said the former Chicago marathon champion.
At the Commonwealth Games, Kirui was full of praise for marathon team captain by his training mate at the Global Sports Communication Jonathan Korir.
“The team is still young and Korir is good, ready to run for medals. He is too close to Eliud for many programmes and am sure he will give up something good and the projection will be positive,” he said.
“Being a captain is an opportunity for leadership which is a gift. Imagine getting the Kenyan flag from the president is a big honour, making history. One has to motivate the team to lead, you are an example in discipline and you need to show it to the world,” he added.
With many athletes switching allegiance to other nations, he commented that they are all Kenyans and their earnings come to develop in Kenya, not their new found lover.
“Kenya has a lot of talents. There is no challenge that Kenyans are going out there and competing against Kenyans. This is a sign that the country is a factory producing more raw materials that they can export to
other countries. I have no problem with them changing nationalities.
Imagine they miss a chance to compete for Kenya and then they get it elsewhere, then they come and compete, it is exciting,” he said.
“In these other nations, they are given good money unlike Kenyan and they will come and invest in Kenya. Our country should also motivate athletes so that they don’t change their nationalities.”
At the World under 20 championships in Cali, Colombia, Kirui said that they should go and retain their overall title they had won at the two championships, starting from the 2018 in Tampere and 2021 in Nairobi.
“If you have been following the junior athletes, they are fine, disciplined, most of the time they produce good results and are not afraid of that. They should retain their title. I want them to be number one in the world just as they did last year and 2018.”