Kenya hopes a new breed of young talented runners will end their wait for gold at the 10k race at the Olympic Games.
For long Ethiopian runners and Britain’s Mo Farah have reigned supreme in the ultimate track distance as Kenya played catch up.
However, head coach Julius Kirwa believes the country might have turned over a new chapter as its production chain has churned out top stars that are keen to take over the baton and dominate in Tokyo.
Kirwa said the emergence of young versatile distance-running talent out of East Africa is nothing new. However, one of the stars in question is the World bronze medalist Rhonex Kipruto, who leads the way among the current generation.
“He has shown time and again that he has the talent. His time will certainly peak in 2020 and I believe the Olympic Games is the ultimate stage for any athlete to prove their excellence in the competition of their choice,” said Kirwa on Thursday in Nairobi.
Kipruto emerged on the international scene in 2018 when he won the world under-20 title in 10,000m in Tampere, Finland by a margin of almost 20 seconds, he backed this up by setting a world-leading 26:46 for 10km on the road in Prague.
Kipruto, who turned 20 in October, won the 10,000m in 26:50.16 in Stockholm Diamond League and then came close to that mark to take world bronze in Doha.
But ahead of the 2020 season, Kipruto is focused on discipline and hard work to walk in the steps of his mentor and World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge.
“I know it is the Olympic year in Tokyo, but the main thing should be discipline and hard work, which will guide me to be what I want to live like Eliud,” said Kipruto.
Kipruto’s coach Ian Kiprono is hopeful his athlete will weather the storm and climb up from bronze to gold in Tokyo.
“He needs to get rooted in doing his homework, training hard and remaining disciplined. The results will always come in,” said coach Kiprono.
“The great Kenyan runners all have an amazing simplicity about themselves. That’s another trait I look for in an athlete. A calmness, not forgetting where they came from,” he added.