As a way of taming the indefatigable Dutch Sifan Hassan, coach Julius Kirwa has cautioned the Kenyan 1,500m team to avoid “kicking” early when they face her in the Round One here at the Khalifa International Stadium Doha, Qatar.
The Dutch proved a thorn in Kenya’s flesh in the 10,000m, where she snatched the gold medal, denying the trio of Hellen Obiri, Rosemary Wanjiru and Agnes Tirop who were the pre-race favourites.
Hassan announced her entry into the four-lap race, forcing the Kenyan camp to re-strategise in a bid to neutralise her prowess and block her from causing yet another upset.
Defending champion Faith Chepngetich, who arrived yesterday morning will lead the trio of Winny Chebet, Sela Jepleting and Judy Chepngetich in jostling for places in the semi-finals slated for tomorrow.
Kirwa said the home girls should sprint in the final 150 metres rather than their usual 400 metres which he believes is way too far from the tape.
“She is beatable but it can be achieved through a well-executed tactical approach. She likes chasing from behind which should not excite our girls. They have to hang around her and gather enough energy for the final 150 metres. If they kick early then she will win but I have noticed that she is relatively weak in the final metres of the race. We are not afraid to face her.”
Meanwhile, Commonwealth steeplechase silver medallist Celliphine Chespol cited a tendon rapture as the reason behind her midway withdrawal in the 3,000m steeplechase final.
“Before the race, I experienced some pains but the doctor cleared me for the contest. I aggravated it in the course of the race and when it became unbearable, I had to seek medical attention. It’s disappointing that I did not finish but I will come back stronger.”
In the same breath, former champion Hyvin Kiyeng could jet back to the country anytime to seek specialised treatment after picking an injury in the finals. She finished eighth in a race won by world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech.
“Her injury doesn’t look good and could be booked in the next available flight to be treated at home. She struggled in the final laps of the race and at the end, she had to seek support from the other athletes,” said a source within the Kenyan camp.