Olympic and world 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto has dismissed criticism about his fitness ahead of the Africa Championships, which starts in Asaba, Nigeria from Aug 1-5.
Speaking in Nairobi on Monday, Kipruto cautioned his opponents. “I love being low-key. You will see me when you will see me,” Kipruto told Xinhua on Monday in Nairobi. “I will put all of my effort in there. I’m ready for it.”
The Commonwealth Games champion has had his worst start to a season, failing to star in the Rome, Eugene, Rabat and Monaco Diamond league meetings. But he believes his worst days are over and he will win his maiden continental title in Nigeria as the curtains rises on the Africa Championships.
“It has not been easy and this is purely down to my own making. I have run the best time this season at 8:08:40 in Rome, but I can do better and winning the Africa title is one thing that inspires me. It is a medal I have not touched,” he said.
Kipruto is among key Kenyan athletes who have been drafted into the team eyeing to improve on their last collection in South Africa where the country claimed 24 medals.
Head coach Stephen Mwaniki is happy he has taken his team through training without any injury concerns and had a full week with all his stars in camp after they returned home from competing in the Diamond League.
“The preparations have been good and though sometimes I missed the elite runners, we have had one good week together and have built a team that can do better than any other we have had in the competition,” Mwaniki said.
Kenya is seeking to widen its medal scope beyond the middle and long distance races by incorporating sprints and field events and Mwaniki is certain this program will yield medals in Nigeria.
“Sprint and field events will be critical to dominating the championships in medals. That is why we have a strong team ready for just that purpose,” Mwaniki added.
South Africa has won three of the past five editions of the African Championships, topping the medals table at Addis Ababa 2008, Marrakech 2014 and Durban 2016.
Kenya hosted and won the 2010 edition of the championships, while Nigeria dominated the 2012 African Championships held in Port Novo, Benin.