In Kurume, Japan
Velocity Sports Performance is an American outfit that helps elite athletes get fit, gain optimum performance and recover well should they encounter injuries.
Since its inception over 20 years ago, the company has trained over one million athletes, from the youth to elite ranks.
Geoffrey Kimani, Team Kenya’s strength and conditioning coach at the Tokyo Olympics, was once on Velocity Sports Performance’s training team, serving in Roswell, Atlanta, Georgia, over a period of one year and two months.
That’s before he later took up the role of sprints coach at Athletics Kenya and, later, strength and conditioning coach at 11-time Kenyan Premier League champions Tusker Football Club.
His colourful resume saw him also serve another Premiership side, Mathare United, as speed coach before he was spirited across the border to serve as strength and conditioning coach for the Uganda national sevens team in 2017.
Kenya Rugby Union signed him up and Kimani was on the technical bench that guided Kenya’s sevens team to victory in the Singapore leg of the World Sevens Series in 2016, also making it to the inaugural Olympic sevens rugby tournament the same year in Rio de Janeiro.
“Very few people on a global scale can match Geoffrey Kimani on matters of Strength and Speed Conditioning as a specialist, you either have one but lose out on the other one,” Alexander Trapani, one of Kimani’s clients heaps praise on the coach on the Kenyan’s LinkedIn page.
“With Geoffrey, he is able to groom you to have these qualities as your preferred coach. In terms of speed, velocity agility and strength in a coaching session to success, this is the man to have at your back.”
Not a bad endorsement for a man charged with making sure team Kenya is in podium shape at the Olympic Games here.
Kimani is one of Team Kenya’s pool of specialised trainers, on board for the Olympics, a first in a move by the National Olympic Committee (NOC-K) to better handle the country’s elite athletes.
Others in the pool are Carole Akinyi (chief medical officer), Rosemary Owino (sports scientist), Kanyali Ilako (sports psychologist) and Mercy Barwecho (nutritionist).
On Wednesday morning, Kimani – who is working under NOC-K’s elite performance commission – focused on the women’s sevens rugby team before paying a visit to the women’s volleyball team in their afternoon session.
“We are bringing in aspects of strength and conditioning, analysis and data collection which goes a long way in telling us what the athletes are going through,” Kimani explained.
“These help design programmes that go in tandem with the kind of activities that our players have.”
Kimani is happy with the progress so far since the NOC-K commission started its operations.
“So far there is very good progression, the athletes (volleyballers) are looking quite fit and it’s a big change from what it was when we started in around March, especially with their lower leg musculature.
“Volleyball is a game that requires a lot of repeat activities of jumping, speed, changing direction, and clearly there is a very big change from what it was in March.”
How is it for Kimani handling multiple sports disciplines?
“Most people say strength and conditioning coaches are jacks of all trade… a strength and conditioning coach can work with any team.
“All they need to know are the specific requirements of a sport – the energy systems, the movement patterns – and they get to design a programme based on the philosophies of the respective coaches that are preparing these athletes.
“The fundamental movements are the same for all the sports and what you just need to do is work on the repetitive nature of the various sports you are working with.”
Kimani is confident that the introduction of the various specialist coaches will enhance performances by Team Kenya.
“All these aspects are intertwined. An athlete who is not mentally prepared for this kind of stage will not give you the performance that is required. An athlete who is not prepared well in terms of strength and conditioning will not be able to have consistent performance.
“Thumbs up to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and the government for putting these together and my only prayer is that this cascades down to the clubs because if it doesn’t start at the club level, it will be tough at the national team,” he adds.