There was drama on Sunday morning when the third batch of Team Kenya athletes headed for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Games boycotted boarding the plane after World javelin champion Julius Yego’s ticket went missing.
Yego, who has been critical about poor treatment of athletes and his coach Joseph Mosonik, was shocked when he arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport only to find no ticket for him.
National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) officials, led by Team Kenya CEO James Chacha, could not produce Yego’s ticket upon arrival at the airport, prompting the athletes to protest.
There were also no tickets for World 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi and two-time world marathon champion Catherine Ndereba who is also Team Kenya chaperone.
It’s after consultations between NOCK officials and Kenya Airways management that the three were finally handed boarding passes for the flight to Luanda, where the team would connect to Rio de Janeiro. The rest of Team Kenya athletes only agreed to board the plane after the three had been given tickets.
However, is not known how Yego, Manangoi and Ndereba would connect from Luanda to Rio following the hitch.
Yego, who is the Commonwealth and two-time Africa champion, had a day earlier questioned NOCK’s travelling plans for his coach Mosonik. NOCK had arranged for Mosonik to join Yego in Rio on August 17, just a day before the world champion competes, with the coach programmed to leave Rio for Nairobi on August 18 when Yego’s competition is still on.
CRITICAL OF NOCK
“I can read sabotage here because I have been critical of the way NOCK has treated us and especially my coach for a long time,” Yego said on Sunday.
“One just can’t be issued with a boarding pass without a ticket. Anyway I will just travel to Luanda and see what happens there. I hope for the best. Let Kenyans pray for us,” said Yego.
Interestingly, World champions Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) and Hyvin Kiyeng (3,000m steeplechase), World 1,500m silver medallists Faith Chepng’etich and World 5,000m silver medallist Caleb Mwangangi failed to travel with the team having made their own arrangements.
Also making own travel arrangements were World 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworor and World Cross Country champion and 2008 Olympics champion Brimin Kipruto. Kipruto claimed silver at the 2015 World Championships.
However, Yego said the circumstances will strengthen his resolve to make Kenya proud once again at the Rio Olympic Games.
“I want to make sure that I reach the final. It’s from there that I will be able to plan well on how to attack for the medal,” said Yego, who downplayed his lukewarm run at this year’s Diamond League season.
“I know my countdown to last year’s World Championships was great, winning my maiden Diamond League event at Birmingham with a Diamond League record but this season has equally been good,” said Yego, who finished second and third at Prenfontaine Classic and Stockholm respectively. “I only performed poorly in Oslo where I finished seventh.”
Yego said the only difference is that he has not been able to throw a long distance as people expected.
“I have been working on my release techniques and body movement,” said Yego, who won the world title in Beijing last year in an African record throw of 92.72m. He won at Birmingham in last year in a DL record of 91.39m.