Embu Camp to the rescue of budding athletes
- After playing second fiddle to other regions in the country for time immemorial, Eastern region is slowly seeking to be a force to reckon in athletics
- The setting up of Embu High Altitude Athletics Training Camp in 2019 was perhaps the first step in the long journey towards success for the region
After playing second fiddle to other regions in the country for time immemorial, Eastern region is slowly seeking to be a force to reckon in athletics.
The setting up of Embu High Altitude Athletics Training Camp in 2019 was perhaps the first step in the long journey towards success for the region.
The camp that is based at the Embu College in Embu County is now hosting more than 50 athletes with half of them being youngsters aged below 20 years.
According to Athletics Kenya (AK) Embu County chairman Stephen Njeru, setting up of the camp was necessitated by the many raw talents that went untapped in the region.
“Our intention when we opened this camp was for us to kill two birds with one stone such that the athletes can train and at the same time study. We are very happy since the everything has worked very well as we already have more than 50 athletes,” said Njeru who doubles as the coordinator of the camp.
While the athletes reside at the Embu College, they train at the University of Embu with the two institutions located in the same vicinity.
Njeru explains that the invention of the camp has come to the rescue of talents in the region that were on the brink of disappearing.
Christine Nyambura is one of the athletes who have revived their careers thanks to the inception of the camp 10 months ago.
The 800m athlete said after completing her secondary education in 2018, she ventured into business until Njeru persuaded her to join the camp.
“I am glad that coach (Njeru) came looking for me. If it were not for this camp, I don’t think I would have even thought of athletics again,” said Nyambura.
Nyambura who is currently pursuing a course in Business Management in Embu College said she is eager to emulate marathon legend Catherine Ndereba as she now set her sights to the World Under-20 Championships which are likely to be held next year.
“I admire her (Ndereba) very much. I heard about her as I grew up and especially when I started running when I was in Primary School,” she said.
The region is home to African Games Walk Race silver medallist Grace Wanjiru as well as 12km world record holder Maurice Munene Gachaga among others.
Njeru, however explains the main factor hindering the growth of the sport in the region.
“It is only the attitude, the attitude of our people towards the sports was very bad. But we are slowly changing that narrative. However, we also lack basic training gear in the camp especially running shoes which majority of our athletes lack,” said Njeru.
With the Moi Stadium in Embu currently in pathetic state, the track at the University of Embu has provided a lifeline for the athletes who were also in top gear preparing for the World Under-20 Championships that was slated to be held in Nairobi in July 7-12.
Despite the postponement of the global event due to the novel coronavirus, Njeru said his athletes will be fighting for slots in the national team when the new dates are set.
“I am assuring you that we will have at least three athletes from this camp who will not only make it to the national team but also the podium,” he said.
The athletes on Saturday received a shot in the arm after AK led by Youth and Development chairman Barnaba Korir handed them food donations and cash stipend to cushion them against effects of Covid-19.
Korir challenged the athletes to up their game and topple other regions led by Rift Valley that have dominated the sport for long.
“You have what it takes to make it. It is only the determination and hard work that will make you stand out,” said Korir.
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