NAIROBI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — Athletics Kenya relay series enters the second leg on Saturday as the country’s sprinters prepare for a strong showing at the fifth edition of World Relays slated for Silesia, Poland, in May.
The three-leg meetings started on Jan. 9 in Nairobi, with the second edition scheduled for Jan. 23, while the third leg will be held on Feb. 6.
The weekend relay meets will culminate into national trials on March 26 and 27, where a team will be picked to represent Kenya in Silesia.
Over the years, the country’s sprinters have lacked high profile competitions resulting in a drop of standards among current Kenyan sprinters, and the creation of weekend relays will see the runners gain valuable experience and fitness ahead of the World Relays Championships and 2020 Olympic Games later in the year.
Kenya’s fastest sprinter Mark Otieno hopes to improve his first leg performance as he eyes national team selection in March.
Otieno, who made his breakthrough in 2017 when he clocked a national record of 10.14 seconds to book his spot at the 2017 World Championships, remains optimistic about making it to the world relays and Tokyo Games.
“Since making my international debut, I have gained enormous experience, and the ongoing weekend meets will make me get into full fitness ahead of World Relays and possible slot to the Olympics Games,” Otieno told Xinhua Wednesday.
Gilbert Osure, a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) sprinter who dominated the first leg of the weekend, topping the men’s 300m in a time of 34:03 seconds hopes to take full advantage of the weekend meetings to ensure he qualifies for the World Relays.
Athletes competed in 150m, 300m, 500m, 100m hurdles, 1,000m, 1,600m, 4x 200m relay, 4x400m mixed relay in the first leg, while the second leg on this Saturday will see runners participates in 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x400m mixed relays, 2x2x400m, shuttle relays – 100m hurdles for both men and women.
“The athletes wishing to represent Kenya at World Relays must participate in the ongoing weekend relays meet that’s the only way they will get a chance to compete at the national trials which will be an invite-only,” the Athletics Kenya senior vice president and director of competition Paul Mutwii told Xinhua on Wednesday.
The World Athletics Relays will head to Europe for the first time this year after the Bahamas hosted the first three editions followed by Yokohama in 2019.