World indoor 800 metres bronze medallist, Youssef Saad Kamel, has threatened to ditch his Bahraini passport and return home if his adopted nation continues to mistreat him.
Speaking to his father, Billy Konchellah - himself a former world 800m champion - Kamel, born Gregory Konchellah, spoke of his struggles to make ends meet in the Gulf state as months go by without a salary.
Currently, he is holed up in a training camp in Addis Ababa from where he sent out an urgent message to his father and the authorities involved to help stop his suffering.
“I have been in touch with him (Kamel), he has expressed his reservation on the manner in which he is being handled. But we are yet to meet with the Bahrain officials over the issue,” said his father in an interview with Daily Nation on Wednesday.
Konchellah Senior confirmed that his son would be coming to Kenya from Addis Ababa for the Christmas holidays, but doubted if ever he would ever return to Bahrain.
“He is not the only one. There have been two meetings in Eldoret by Kenyan athletes who moved to Bahrain to discuss what is happening in their adopted country.
“But I will wait for him to come and see what will happen next,” said Konchellah.
Kamel, 25, said Bahrain had failed to deliver on the contract they signed after he accepted to become a citizen of the Gulf state in 2003.
Last year, another Kenyan defector to Bahrain, Leonard Mucheru, took back his Kenya passport citing frustration from his new nation.
“Qatar have been able to keep their end of the bargain (for adopted athletes) by honouring the contracts. But for those who are in Bahrain, it is not the same story,” said Konchellah senior.
Forced to open up
According to Kamel’s father, his son has been unhappy for several months. However, he noted that the situation must be unbearable now that he has been forced to go public.
“Wherever his decision, we will support him. He is still welcomed back home. He told me the conditions were not favourable for his stay in the Gulf state.”
It is believed that over 40 athletes have ditched their Kenyan citizenship in search of better pay. But not all are happy after signing the contract.
“Promises are not honoured. Sometimes I can go for several months without a salary. When I ask for the money I am told to wait,” said Kamel.
“I’m prepared to come back home and run for Kenya at the 2009 World championships in Berlin.”
Athletics Kenya secretary general David Okeyo, confirmed that he has heard about Kamel plight but he could not act as he has not formally requested Kenya citizenship.