Coach Kirwa believes Kipkirui will step into Kandie's shoes

National team head coach Julius Kirwa has exuded confidence in Ishmael Kipkurui's potential to effectively step into the shoes of Kibiwott Kandie at the upcoming  2023 World Athletics Championships.

Kandie, who had punched a ticket to fly the country's flag in the 5000m, withdrew from the team owing to a nagging hamstring injury.

"We made the changes last week. Ishmael is in good form and he has proved himself as a junior athlete. I'm confident he'll live up to expectations," Kirwa said in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

The Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres bronze medallist will miss the World Championships for the second time in a row after staying out of Oregon 22.

Last year, the World Half Marathon silver medallist, almost sealed a slot on the Kenyan plane to Oregon after clinching the national trials but failed to crack the qualifying time.

He last held forte for the nation at the 44th World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia where he finished fifth. His most recent race was in Germany in April during the Adizero Road to Records 10km race, where he finished second in 26:53.

He secured a berth in the men’s 10,000m team despite finishing fourth during the national trials.

“I was in camp for a week when the team reported and training was going on well. I tried to persevere for some days while training but there was no change hence the break to avoid worsening it," said Kandie.

While regretting the unfortunate turn of events, Kandie vowed to bounce back stronger at the World Half Marathon Championships that will be held in Riga, Latvia on October 1.

“I know a lot of people are disappointed I'll not be traveling with the rest of the team to Budapest, especially after I experienced a similar fate last year when I also failed to make it to Oregon," Kandie stated.

Meanwhile, Kirwa has said he is satisfied with the amount of effort expended in practice even as the team continues to put the final touches ahead of their departure to the Hungarian capital.

"We have trained well enough and all the athletes are in good shape. We are expecting a good performance in Budapest later in the month," Kirwa said.

The seasoned gaffer also tipped Kenyan sprint sensation Ferdinand Omanyala to steer the country to unprecedented glory.

"He is in his peak this season and I have no doubt in my mind he'll be pulling off a major surprise at the World Championships," Kirwa said. 

posted Monday August 14th
by Tony Mballa