Olympic and world champ Felix Sanchez tips hurdlers

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By AYUMBA AYODI
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Two times World and Olympic 400 metres hurdles champion Felix Sanchez believes Kenya can replicate its distance running dominance in the sprints but only with proper guidance and coaching.

Sanchez, who hails from the Dominican Republic, said the Kenya had displayed such potential by virtue of Nicholas Bett winning the 2015 world title in the 400m hurdles title and Boniface Mucheru winning for silver at last year’s Rio Olympic Games in the same race.

World 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett in full flight during the training session. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

World 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett in full flight during the training session. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

“Guidance and the right programmes are what many Africa countries lack to produce sprinters,” said the 39-year-old star, who won the 400m hurdles gold at 2004 (Athens) and 2012 (London) Olympics.

“Kenya has enormous talent in long distance races on track and road hence there is no reason why they can’t produce greats in sprints consistently.”

Sanchez said the world of sprints is dynamic hence Kenyan coaches need to broaden their knowledge by getting out of their comfort zone.

“We must be able to put together proper plans for the right athletes. We must embrace the opportunity when it presents itself,” said Sanchez adding that this is the right time to expand the sprinters’ base in Africa.

“It takes courage to do something different and athletics authorities must take the lead.”

The 39-year-old, who won the 400m hurdles gold at 2004 Athens and 2012 London Olympics, is in the country to help former international Vincent Mumo train four hurdlers this season.

They are Bett, Mucheru, national 400m champion Haron Koech, who is Bett’s twin brother, and Kiprono Koskei ahead of August’s London World Championships.

Dominican Republic’s former World and Olympic hurdles champion Felix Sanchez gestures during a training session with Kenyan hurdlers at Kasarani on January 24, 2017. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Dominican Republic’s former World and Olympic hurdles champion Felix Sanchez gestures during a training session with Kenyan hurdlers at Kasarani on January 24, 2017. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Sanchez, who will be in the country for two weeks courtesy of Finland’s athletes’ representative Jukka Harkonnen of Jukka Harkonnen Sports Management, said he is excited for that opportunity to help the Kenyan athletes and share his wisdom.

“The main objective of my visit is to prepare them this season for major races, see where there are some deficiencies and polish them,” said Sanchez, who hopes that the Kenyans will continue making hurdling history.

“Kenya has the potential of having four 400m hurdlers at the London Worlds. I’m sure no one thought that can happen, but they have a unique opportunity.”

Sanchez said he will co-ordinate with Mumo on the athletes’ right training programme online while away and will invite the athletes to the Dominican Republic next month for further training ahead of the Diamond League season.

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