Kenya’s first major international competition was the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, where Nyandika Maiyoro was fourth in the three-mile event, Lazaro Chepkowny’ was seventh in the six-mile race and the Kenyan team was fourth in the 4-by-400m relay. At the Olympics in Melbourne two years later, Maiyoro was seventh in the 5,000m race.
The failure of scientific studies to concretely link genes to the success of Kenyan Athletes has led to the notion that these athletes are successful because they live in high altitudes. Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes come from geographical areas of The Great Rift Valley that lie in high altitude of about 2,000 to 2,500 metres above sea level. Kalenjins contribute 80 per cent of the Kenyan elite athletes, while the Ethiopian runners come from the Arsi and Shewa tribal regions. The advantage associated with high altitude is ‘living high’ and ‘training high’. At high altitudes there is low oxygen, making training at high intensity strenuous.
Kenyan athletes have legs that are five per cent longer when compared to Scandinavian athletes. In addition, their calves are 12 per cent lighter. As a result of this, Kenyan runners have lighter limbs that require less energy to swing, granting them a biomechanical advantage. They are also more metabolically economical in race-pace running velocities. Probably this could be the special features that make Kenyan athletes ‘fly’. But again, Ethiopian athletes have a different body type which is similar to that of some Europeans and they also perform exceptionally well. Once a study is carried out on the biomechanical and metabolic efficiency of Ethiopian athletes, it will be possible to draw a concrete conclusion.
The Safari Rally was started as an East African competition between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to celebrate the coronation of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Considered one of the world’s toughest rallies, covering over 1,000km across rugged east African savannah, the competition attracted top overseas drivers. Past winners included Britain’s Colin McRae, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Ari Vatanen of Finland.
Kenya Sevens utility back Collins Injera celebrated a milestone in 2016 when he scored at the death against France during the London Sevens to become World Rugby Sevens Series all-time highest try scorer, with 231 touchdowns.
Even though Kenya Sevens lost to France 12-29, that didn’t remove the shine from Injera’s exploits as he was set up by elder brother Humphrey Kayange at the in-goal area to make the historic try that surpassed Argentina coach Santiago Gomez Cora’s all-time record of 230. Cora’s record had stood since 2009 when he scored as Argentina edged out England 19-14 to lift USA Sevens in San Diego.