Former coach Mike Kosgei full of praise with Kenyans running talent

Former national Athletics Kenya head coach Mike Kosgei is optimistic that Kenyan athletes will be shining at the major events this year in a busy calendar.

With Kenya topping the Africa Senior Athletics championships in Reduit, Mauritius, Kosgei said Kenyans athletes are so talented don’t need much but support to ensure they win.

Kosgei, who won many medals at the global stage with the national team both on track and cross country said that they train as a team to know that they are going for a competition. When they stay together in the camp, the coach will get to know who is going to do what because they have only one gold medal in one event.

“For now, I can’t comment much on the national team but what I know is that the team at all times should get prepared. I don’t like a team that is picked from clubs because they have to be in a residential training camp to know and learn from each other. Taking for example in 10,000m, there is only one gold but they allow three entries so that they can assist each other,” said the veteran coach.

The man who served the federation as a coach for 15 years said it was unnecessary for Mo Farah to dominate among Kenyans yet the country has good runners in both 5,000m and 10,000m.

“I remember in 2001 we went to Edmonton for the world championships, where we had Charles Kamathi, Paul Malakwen Kosgei and John Cheruiyot Korir where Kamathi won, he was not known but we beat Haile Gabreslassie and that happened because of teamwork,” the 72-year-old coach adding that he   believes in running tactics, where one can be the best shape but he cannot win in a tactical race.

He said that being in a camp is very important for an athlete with common knowledge that before any championships the team must go to the residential training at least one or two months so that they can win in technical events like 100m, hurdles.

“They must train together and the coach must be there to see how they are doing. Correct mistakes that might have happened during national trials or championships and the camp is there to correct the mistakes and avoid competing against each other,” he said.

The former athlete said that training together, doing intervals helps coaches and each athlete to understand their strengths and challenges.

“I was an athlete before getting a scholarship to study at the Washington State University in the USA majoring in social sciences. I came back and joined the ministry of culture and social services before meeting a German (Walter Amaya) who wanted to coach the coaches and I was one of them. I got an opportunity to go to Germany to specialize in coaching and earned a major in social science, Bachelor of Arts and an IAAF Diploma from Nairobi university,” he said.

With Kenya dominating the world cross country championships, Kosgei said: “I remember in 1986 when John Ngugi won the world cross country title, we went ahead to win five times then William Sigei who won two times then Paul Tergat came and won five times so it has been a lot of success in the cross country. This was achieved through the team because one cannot win alone even if athletics being an individual sport.”

He added that as a national coach, the athletes come from different camps and he had to learn on how to handle them at the individual and team level. Understand how to make them work as a team because winning.

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