NAIROBI – Kenya’s newly crowned Coach of the Year Japhet Kemei has warned athletes not to be complacent after the retirement of Britain’s Mo Farah from track competition.
Farah, who is the world and Olympic 10,000m champion, hung up his spikes to focus on marathon and road racing starting this year and will not be in Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.
However, Kemei, who has been honoured for nurturing several talented athletes including former world 5,000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich says the country is not out of the woods yet.
“The withdrawal of Mo Farah from 5,000m and 10,000m should not make us celebrate but on the contrary our athletes should do more and be wary of other upcoming athletes from other countries,” he said.
Kemei picked out Ethiopia, emerging USA and Arab countries as serious contenders to take over Farah’s throne and Kenya must never think for a second that gold medals in the two longest track competitions is theirs to lose.
“The competition will be even stiffer. Kenyan athletes must work around the clock to study what Farah’s edge was and improve on the same. Stronger athletes will emerge and we must always be on the lookout lest we are left in our strides just as the Briton did to Kenyans,” said Kemei.
World half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Olympic bronze medallist Paul Tanui, Leonard Barsoton, Bedan Karoki are some of Kenya’s best athletes in 10,000m, but they all fell short of Farah’s bar. Already Kamworor and Karoki have ditched track competition for the marathon but Kemei said there will be more athletes emerging through the ranks to take up their positions on the track to supplement on the efforts done by Tanui and Barsoton.
“It is these breed of upcoming athletes that worries me. They must never doubt the ability of other countries overtaking Kenya in this competition even if Farah is retired. Kenya must stake claim to this event and we must always look out for potential challenge,” he added.
After the Commonwealth Games, athletes will test serious competition in the IAAF Diamond League meeting, a 14-tier competition, which starts in Doha in May and ends in Brussels in September. Winners of the IAAF trophy will automatically win a ticket to the 2019 World Championships in Doha.