If petty politics and poor performance by Team Kenya at the London Olympics is not to be repeated in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, officials must learn to respect the wishes of athletes and top leadership of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and appoint career sports administrators to positions of responsibility and not people who have failed to manage their own associations.
Kenya must also accept the technical assistance from athletes’ individual coaches and the country must learn to put blame where it lies and not firing on the direction of the hard working athletes.
They deserve praise even in defeat to spur them for better results in next major events.
Sports is a unifying factor and brings positive publicity for a country. Olympics marathon champion Wilson Kiprotich from Uganda who had breakfast with President Yoweri Museveni and was rewarded with Sh7.6 million exemplifies this. Museveni could not calculate the amount of positive publicity Uganda received in the last five minutes of the men’s marathon.
Uganda’s national anthem was one of the four played at the closing ceremony before 80,000 spectators and a global audience of over 1 billion people.
In comparison, Ezekiel Kemboi, our hero in London, arrived home unnoticed. Despite winning silver and bronze, our marathon heroes were not accorded the reception they deserved. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was at hand to receive the team but instead of celebrating our heroes, the dark secrets of London took centre stage.
As a former athlete and manager, I know athletes are selfless but very sensitive with issues concerning their welfare. The disappearance of Team Kenya’s kit in London was a serious mistake because kit are athletes’ basic tools of trade.
Why should kits ordered and supplied by Nike, the official kitting company for the United States and other countries, become a problem where Nock is concerned?
Cases like infighting among officials have never been experienced at events like the World Championships in athletics, World Indoors, Cross-country and half marathon races where Team Kenya has been managed by the Athletics Kenya. Squabbling overshadowed the success of our athletes who finished sixth overall in athletics medals table.
Barnaba Korir, a former international athlete, is an athletes’ manager and chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi Branch.