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Kenya united behind its Olympic stars

Wednesday June 27 2012

President Mwai Kibaki presents the national flag to Mary Nakhumicha, captain of the Kenya team to the London  Paralympic games at State House Nairobi on June 27, 2012.Photo| MOHAMMED AMIN.
Photo| MOHAMMED AMIN|NATION President Mwai Kibaki presents the national flag to Mary Nakhumicha, captain of the Kenya team to the London Paralympic games at State House Nairobi on June 27, 2012.
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By AYUMBA AYODI [email protected]

President Mwai Kibaki has handed over the national flag to Kenya’s Olympics-bound athletes and implored them to go for nothing short of a medal haul in London.

The President handed over the flag at a pre-championships ritual at State House, Nairobi, to Kenya’s overall team captain David Rudisha who said he was touched by the the Head of State’s words, promising to deliver the golden moments.

“The president seems to have been following my progress as he congratulated me. He told me to go out there and do my best,” said Rudisha, the world 800 metres champion and record holder.

Rudisha thanked the President and Kenyans for their support, noting that it was the kind of drive they needed ahead of the London Games.

“There support has been great and our expectations are high for an improved show at the London Games. “We shall do our best and bring home the medals that we can manage.”

Bring many medals

Rudisha said, adding that he was particularly happy to lead one of the finest squads in Kenya’s sporting history.

“I just thank God for his blessings and nothing comes better than the wise advise from the President,” Rudisha said.

In his address to the four national teams headed for various international assignments, President Kibaki said even though qualifying for the Games was challenging, competing and winning medals for the country will even be tougher.

The teams that received the President’s blessings are the Olympic Games contingent, and the teams to the London Paralympic Games, World Junior Championships and World Deaf Athletics Championships.

“I congratulate you for getting this far and we are confident that you will bring many medals at the end of the game,” Kibaki told the 185 athletes. “I urge you to go for it and bring us that success.”

Kibaki challenge the athletes to emulate those who have been there before and put the country in the international limelight.

“Performing well at the Olympics and Paralympics and Deaf Games earns you a place in sports history which can never be erased.

“You will get fame and glory for both yourself and Kenya besides you will be rewarded handsomely by the games organisers, the government, corporate organisations and individuals,” said Kibaki.

He also received the “Team Kenya” competition kit from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) chairman, former Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino.

The London Olympic Games will be held from July 27 to August 12 before the Paralympics take centre stage from August 29 to September 9.

The World Junior Championships run from July 10 to 15 in Barcelona, Spain while the World Deaf Athletics Championships are due July 12 to 22 in Toronto, Canada. “I wish you all God’s blessings and care. We send you out as champions.

“Bring our nation the glory because we are looking forward to a good medal tally,” Kibaki added, noting that those chosen to represent Kenya in London, Barcelona and Toronto are part of a long history of excellence by Kenyan sporting heroes who have brought glory to the country.

“We look forward to the playing of the Kenyan national anthem as many times as possible during the various events.”

“These events symbolise excellence in sport. We take great pride, as a nation, to compete in them,” Kibaki said. He also urged them to be confident and maintain high standards discipline since they are weapons of success.

President Kibaki, at the same time, called for the fast-tracking of the establishment of the national sports lottery saying will help to raise funds for various sports programmes in the country.

Sports minister Paul Otuoma disclosed that the government’s cash reward scheme will factor in the Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships.

During the 2008 Beijing Games, the government rewarded gold medallists with Sh750,000 each, silver medallists got Sh500,000 while bronze medal winners were rewarded with Sh250,000 each.

Mobile telephone provider Safaricom equalled government’s rewards. Otuoma said the those winning at the World Defeat Athletics Championship will also benefit.

Gold medal winners will pocket Sh600,000 while silver and bronze will pocket Sh300,000 and Sh200,000 respectively.