Bernard Ouma – Strathmore University Athletics Coach
An International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Level Two accredited coach, second-degree karate black belt holder, 5-time back to back Karate National champion and a holder of a Master’s Degree in Sports Science from Budapest, Hungary, Coach Bernard joined Strathmore University in 2018 with vast experience in the sporting world. He talks to us about his career in athletics coaching.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am an Athletics Coach by profession since 2007. I have undertaken a degree in Sports Science majoring in track and field. I am the Founder and head of the Rongai Athletics Club (RAC) which is the best middle distance Athletics Club for two years consecutively. I have trained various athletes such as 1500 meter champions: Elijah Manangoi, George Manangoi, and Timothy Cheruiyot. No training group in the world has been able to thoroughly dominate the 1500 metre race as we do.
I grew up as a swimmer, but my best sport was karate, where I was the Kenyan national champion in the open weight class from 2001-2006. I was also a gold medalist at the Africa Zone 5 Championships in 2006 and a semifinal World Champion.
How did you end up as an athletics Coach?
I attended classes at the University of Nairobi where I did automotive engineering and training as a karateka. During that time, I took up sprinting and enjoyed the sport.
In 2006, around the time I graduated, I developed a stress fracture that prevented me from sprinting. Shortly after that, my training group began to split up and needed a coach. Some of the athletes approached me with a request: Why don’t you help us with coaching as well? You seem knowledgeable. I accepted, and in 2006 I founded the Rongai Athletics Club (RAC). I joined Strathmore University last year and have been able to train with the University athletes, of which 3 of them will be going to the World University Games.
Tell us about your achievements in coaching athletics?
The list is endless regarding international events where RAC has been able to dominate. The IAAF Diamond League, Commonwealth games and the Continental Cup are just a few I would mention.
What is your work as a Coach?
I am a hands-on person. I like to handle the athletes training and ensure they do it well. I am a firm believer in practice makes perfect. If you see any athlete running on the track, it’s a reflection of what they practice. So if you see us running fast, that is how we practice. That is how we train.
I develop the athletes in strength, speed, and endurance. Everything I do is geared around running fast, so when it comes to strength training where we hit the gym three times a week, I have a simple philosophy: to run faster, you must strengthen the muscles you use to run.
Is athletics only physical?
It is more mental than physical. Joining athletics can be so discouraging that you need a lot of mental strength to endure. Mental preparation is key for any athlete to be able to push their body.
How do you think Strathmore University athletes will perform in the upcoming World University Games?
Performance depends on the background preparation and I think they are improving every day. We only started the program a few months ago and by hard work, they have been able to qualify for the World University games. We will keep on working hard as we hope for the best.
How can I join the Strathmore Athletics team?
You can go through the Sports department where you’ll be sent to me for an assessment which can take up to a week. We want to do it professionally and take people who have an interest in athletics.
What motivates you?
The feeling of satisfaction and knowing that I have been able to transform someone’s life. I started RAC to help the less fortunate in society.
This article was written by Tuzo Munene.
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