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Let’s not shed crocodile tears for legends we ignored

Wednesday July 29 2020
race_pix

Ben Jipcho of Kenya (second right) trails compatriot Philip Ndoo during a 3,000m steeplechase race run in Oslo, Norway in this undated photo. Jipcho won the race as Ndoo finished third. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BARNABA KORIR

First things first and, once again, my condolences to the family of the late legendary Ben Jipcho.

Of course, we know Kenya’s track and field history cannot be complete without the mention of Jipcho.

Jipcho is a former middle and long distance Kenyan athlete who won medals in various Commonwealth, Olympic and All African Games between 1968 and 1975.

His most notable achievements include winning a silver medal in the 3,000 metres steeplechase behind Kipchoge Keino at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and winning 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase gold medals and a bronze in the 1,500m at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.

But while we mourn Jipcho, I must admit that, as a country, we have neglected our sports pioneers unlike other countries.

We cannot just be remembering our heroes in death because it serves no purpose.

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There are many ways to empower or rather honour our heroes and heroines while they are alive instead of engaging in “Crocodile Tears” when they are gone. 

Condolence messages

We need to make our heroes feel that they are part and parcel of the country’s sports history. 

Simple things like the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) card will go a long way in saving some of them.

We have always remained quiet when they are ailing and making appeals for medical help only to show up with long condolence messages that mean nothing when they are gone.

Some of them are experts in different fields and I guess a little push from either the county or national government will go a long way in ensuring they remain afloat.

It’s sad that we have only engaged the legends when it suits us — either when celebrating national days or when we want to showcase them to the rest of the world.

The other way to show them that we care is by naming roads and sports facilities after them. Ladies and gentlemen we cannot continue with the same line of promising heaven and delivering our heroes in hell.

We have to start a scheme that will cushion them during old age as we seek to recognize their roles.

Team set up

Over the years, they have been ignored and it’s time they are properly honoured and decorated.

A team of some leaders need to be set up to look into ways and means of honouring our heroes.

Korir is the chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch. [email protected]

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