COUNTY POLITICS: Athletes opt to run for the more alluring elective posts

Athletes opt to run for the more alluring elective posts

Wilfred Bungei is also eyeing the Emgwen seat in Nandi County.

After running successfully run on the track, a number of elite athletes are now trying their luck in politics.

The athletes have offered their candidature for various elective posts, mostly in the Rift Valley where a majority hail from.

Former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang tops the list, as he seeks to be the next Keiyo South MP. He is set to square it out with nine aspirants. 

In an interview with the Saturday Nation, the athlete expressed confidence of not only winning the primaries but also the General Election on August 8.

The seat is open as the incumbent, Jackson Kiptanui, is eyeing the Elgeyo-Marakwet governor position that is currently held by Mr Alex Tolgos.

Mr Kipsang, who won the Tokyo Marathon last February, said he had done his best to ensure he garners enough votes to propel him to Parliament.

After his win in Tokyo, Mr Kipsang started his official campaigns immediately, saying his first task of winning the marathon was done and that he hoped that his second race — to Parliament — will also be successful.

“Winning Tokyo Marathon with a course record is a good sign of winning my race to Parliament to represent Keiyo South residents,” he said then.

If voted in, he said will help improve education standards by creating a conducive learning environment by building more classrooms in primary and secondary schools.

“I will also want to empower youths by sponsoring them to join various polytechnics especially those who are from poor families,” he went on.

Also top on his agenda is the provision of clean water through borehole drilling in various parts of the constituency.

“I will make sure I drill boreholes and construct dams so that the community is able to sustain itself in terms of food production. This will stabilise the economy and reduce poverty.”

As a sportsman, he also wants to improve sports facilities, including building good roads for athletes to use during training.

The county is best known for favourable weather for athletes to train. 

Other contestants for the seat are Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly Speaker Albert Kochei, Brian Chebii, Gideon Kimaiyo, Daniel Rono and Michael Kibiwott.

If Kipsang wins in the primaries, he will battle it out with ODM’s Micah Kigen and Dr Elijah Korich, who is vying for the seat on a Kanu ticket.

Former Olympic 800m gold medalist Wilfred Bungei is also eyeing the Emgwen seat in Nandi County, where he seeking to unseat current MP Alex Kosgei.

Mr Bungei, in an interview, said his main agenda will be to change sports management in the country, bring sanity and restore the lost glory in athletics after Kenya was kept on a watch list due to increasing doping cases.

He further revealed that he will push for the recognition of athletes once they do well in international events to avoid change of citizenship.

“Our athletes have been doing well in the international races. However, they are usually not honoured by the government. Once I’m elected to Parliament, I will for sure represent them and ensure that their welfare is improved,” he added.

Former Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir, the current Cherangany MP, is also seeking re-election and will be battling it out with former MP Joshua Kutuny, Kororia Simatwa, Julius Tunduria, Sammy Melly and Kiprop Barno.

Another athlete, James Kwalia, has set his sights on the Saboti Ward Rep’s seat in Trans Nzoia County.

He recently told the Nation that his main interest is to assist youths to have better lives.

“My main focus will be youth and women empowerment. I have been using a lot of my resources ferrying youth to Eldoret and Iten for training and various competitions due to poor facilities here in Trans Nzoia,” Kwalia said.

He noted he will use his position to build better roads that will help the athletes during training.

His other main project would be to provide clean water to the residents given that the area is neighbouring Mt Elgon.

“I will use my position to help the athletes by constructing good roads so that they can have a place to train. Women and community as a whole will benefit from clean water given that the area is next to Mt Elgon and water is accessible,” he added.

He will be battling with current MCA Kapoloman Ndiema and Alex Makan.

Kwalia represented Kenya in various competitions from 2001 to 2004 before changing his citizenship to Qatar where he represented the country up to 2010.

He now has dual citizenship and will be looking forward to clinching the seat and use his influence to bring in investors from Qatar.

Also in the list of athletes eying elective seats is 3,000m world record holder Daniel Komen.

He is seeking the Racecourse Ward seat in Uasin Gishu County.