National under- 20 javelin champion Ita Nao Leshan defied all odds to make a podium finish on Saturday as the curtains came down on the second Athletics Kenya weekend meet in Nyanza South, Kisii County.
Leshan managed a best throw of 63.65m on Saturday afternoon which secured him the second runners up position, while Duncan Kinyachai closed the two-day event with a victory of 64.69m, as Micheal Ronoh took runners up position in 63.79m.
The 18 year old Leshan was not dissapointed with his throw, adding that lack of proper equipment, shoes and coach, were the greatest challenges in his young career. But even without them, he put his best foot forward, going neck- and- neck with his competitors.
“I have been training since the U-18 Championships though there are a lot of challenges. But that does not make me lose focus on doing what I love the most. Lack of a javelin coach is not going to make me change from javelin to athletics,” Leshan told Citizen Digital in Kisii.
The form two student at Ololunga High School in Narok County has had to improvise his training with a 800g javelin that is meant for senior athletes, instead of a 700g for his category.
According to Leshan, he is still waiting on the Narok County Governor, Samuel ole Tunai, to honour his promise of buying him a javelin so that he can properly prepare for the IAAF World U -20 Championships slated for July 19-24 in Tampere, Finland.
“I am currently training in Kericho though I do not have a coach who has specialized in javelin. Coach Japeth Kemei helps me a lot and he has a javelin that I can use though its meant for senior athletes,”he said.
“As for the U-20 Championships, I’m targeting to hit 70m-75m to give me a comfortable lead before competing. I’m taking advantage of the weekend meetings to gauge my training,” said the optimistic Leshan.
Leshan believes that with the proper shoes and good training, he can break Olympic silver medallist and former World champion Julius Yego national record of 94.92m.
“Other competitors are beating me because of the shoes and worse there is no javelin for junior athletes provided in the meetings. I just pray and hope that the Lord will see me through.
“My role model is Yego. I try to follow his techniques and training programme. I aspire to write more history in javelin,” Leshan confidently said.
Leshan is targeting a second call up to team Kenya after representing the country at the last IAAF World U-18 Championships hosted in July at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Though he was not properly equipped, he managed to set a personal best of 64.66m.
His icon, Rio 2016 Olympics Games silver medallist, Yego, who was keenly following the five- day championship raised concerns over his training gear.