Hurdles legend Sanchez tips Bett to peak for London


Nicholas Bett
Nicholas Bett

Two-time Olympics champion Felix Sanchez is certain 400m Hurdles World titleholder , Nicholas Bett will hit top form ahead of his title defence in London in August.

Sanchez, 38, who also holds two world titles over the lap hurdles also backed Kenyan sprinters to establish themselves as a global force like their distance running counterparts.

The hurdles legend is in Kenya to train athletes among them Olympics Games silver medalist and African Champion Boniface Mucheru,  Bett , his twin brother – also an African Championships bronze medalist -Aaron Koech and Kipkosgey Kiprono.

“The training is going on well. It’s not what I had imagined as I’d imagined; the weather is perfect and Nairobi is a big city. It’s my first time being in Kenya and I’m very happy.

“The athletes have a rich culture in middle and long distance and helping the hurdlers to be in shape for the world championships will be a great honor for me,” Sanchez told Citizen Digital at Nairobi’s Kasarni Stadium on Wednesday.

Sanchez who is in the country for two weeks on invitation from the athletes said he will be focusing on specific hurdles techniques which is ‘very vital’.

Between 2001 and 2004, he won 43 races in a row at his specialist distance. That streak included his 2001 and 2003 world titles in Edmonton and Paris respectively, and his 2004 Olympic title in Athens.

“What we need to work on is the rhythm in between the hurdles, transition between switching legs and the hurdles techniques. Those are aspects we need to address first.  It’s going to take some time but they look patient and ready to learn,” he offered.

Sanchez who announced his retirement last year will be working on a coach programme sponsored by the sporting apparel company Nike until the end of the season as the athletes shift their focus on the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia next year.

“Hopefully I can continue with them next year as I establish myself as a coach. They’re the first batch of elite athletes have started with and I hope many more will follow.

“I also have some young athletes back in Dominica and I shall invite Nicholas and his team to come and also train with us as we do the final touches before the championships,” he underscored.

Despite noting the difference in tact, Sanchez was in awe of Kenya’s 3000m steeplechase record that has seen the country return a men’s steeplechase winner at every Olympic since 1980  appears safe as ever.

“In steeplechase you can jump the hurdles how you like because it’s a longer race but in hurdles you have to clear all of them skillfully or you get disqualified. The technical part of clearing them is very important and should be mastered,” Sanchez said.

Coach and retired athlete Vincent Mumo who trained the athletes in readiness for the Summer Games said he also hoped to learn from the man claimed a share of the Golden League million-dollar jackpot in 2002 after winning all of his races in the series that year.

“He has achieved a lot in his career and it’s been great learning from him. Caribbean Countries do well in sprints and it would be great if we learnt the trick that works for them.”

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