The triumphant national athletics team that took part in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow jetted back home on Monday night.
The team was received by hundreds of friends, relatives and well-wishers led by Deputy President William Ruto.
With a total of 12 medals - five gold medal, four silver and three bronze, five less than the Daegu haul in 2011 - Team Kenya finished fourth (and first in Africa) on the log with hosts Russia topping with seven gold, four silver and six bronze, followed by USA (6-13-6) and Jamaica (6-2-1).
Ruto congratulated the stars and promised them hefty cash rewards. Every gold medallist will receive Sh1 million, silver medallists Sh750,000 each while the three bronze medallists will take home Sh500,000.
“Pongezi! You have done this country proud. The government will continue supporting all our sportsmen and women in their efforts,” Ruto said. The Deputy President also reiterated the government’s pre-election pledges of improving the existing sports infrastructure.
Marathon queen Edna Kiplagat, the only gold medallist to return home on Monday, told Daily Nation Sport that she had to switch to Plan B to win the race.
“With around 10km to go, I looked back and didn’t see my friend Lucy (Kabuu), I then decided to give my all and go for the kill,” the 33-year-old who retained the world title. Edna was received at the airport by her family, including her seven-year-old son Carlos and five-year-old daughter ‘Chemu’. “I am happy to see mummy after a while. I know she has brought me presents,” Chemu, a pupil at Sunrise Primary in Iten, said.
Team coach Sammy Rono attributed some below par results registered by the team to ‘lack of communication’, inexperience, and inability to stick to team tactics.
“We had planned to burn out Mo Farah, but Soy got tired. (Ugandan marathon winner) Kiproitich is beatable as well.” Rono added: “Lack of experience cost us in the men’s 800m race.” The 3,000m silver medallist, Lydia Chepkurui, Paul Tomei and Isiah Kiplagat were some of the athletes who returned home.
A large number of the runners however remained in Europe to participate in upcoming races. At the same time, Athletics Kenya will soon start an exchange program with Jamaica. Under the arrangement, Jamaica will forward a coach to train Kenyan sprinters, while AK will return the favour by sending a long distance trainer.