Bahrain’s world indoor 800 metres bronze medallist, Youssef Saad Kamel, might be available for selection for next year’s World Athletics Championship in Berlin, but as Kenyan Gregory Konchellah.
This is following an official request by Athletics Kenya to have his change of citizenship fast-tracked.
Kamel, who is legally still a Bahrainian citizen, was born Gregory Konchellah in Narok to former world 800m champion, Billy Konchellah, and is among the estimated 40 athletes who have cashed in on their talent to pick up citizenship of Gulf states - especially Bahrain and Qatar - in search of better financial rewards.
Commitment in writing
Athletics Kenya secretary, David Okeyo, has confirmed that a letter has been sent to both the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Bahrain Athletics Association (BAA) indicating the demand by Kamel to return to Kenya after representing Bahrain for five years.
“We have made it official, we want Kamel back home. But it all depends on the Bahrain office. They have made it known verbally that they will help us, now we need their commitment in writing,” said Okeyo.
BAA president, Talel al Khalifa, has reiterated that his country will not stand in Kamel’s way or deny him the desire to return to Kenya.
Fast track his return
But for Bahrain to allow him to continue with his career to represent the country it will need both parties to sit down on a round table to iron out the differences.
“What we want is to fast track his return so that his career will not be disturbed.
“Both AK and BAA have an obligation and a stake in the future of Kamel and it is our hope that his fate will be decided quickly.
“However, the return of Kamel to international competition may take the usual three years, or we are likely to reach an agreement to reduce it to six months or waive it completely.
“That will depend on how we negotiate with BAA,” said Okeyo.
Kamel fell out with BAA officials and accused them of having failed to remit his bonuses dating back to 2006.
This prompted him to boycott his training camp in Addis Ababa and returned to Nairobi.