A storm is brewing ahead of Team Kenya’s departure to the Rio Paralympic Games with some Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) board members trading blame over joyriders in the team.
While KNPC chairperson Agnes Oluoch said 19 athletes, including 10 guides and 16 officials will make the trip with an advance party of six officials leaving on Friday, a rival group claimed there was a separate list.
The rest of the team is due to leave the country on September 1 for the Games that will start on September 7-18.
Addressing a press conference at the Nyayo National Stadium on Teusday, Oluoch dismissed claims of mismanagement of funds.
However, at a separate press conference at Kencom House, the rival group led by KNPC board members Pauline Awange and Bernard Ong’ondo said there has been lack of transparency and accountability in management of funds as well as selection of officials who will accompany the team.
Efforts to get the list from Oluoch proved futile as she only gave the names of the travelling athletes.
Oluoch said that while Kenya had qualified 28 athletes with “A” Standard Times but the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) scaled down the number to nine, where three athletes were given wild cards.
“There is little we could have done since that is the quota IPC allocated us. We have sent several mails to have the number increased but in vain,” said Oluoch, adding that Kenya could have send a large number if they participated at the World Championships-cum-qualifying championships held last year in Dubai.
“Our athletes could have gained automatic qualification from Dubai but we failed to send a team there,” said Oluoch.
She was flanked by vice-chair Dennis Omondi, secretary general Elijah Aliero and Treasurer John Tito.
Oluoch Kenyan athletes made the cut at three qualifying championships in Africa but some were left out since other countries, especially from Europe, had better “A” times as per IPC quota.
“Other African countries have also lodged their complaints,” she added.
Oluoch has been under siege following claims that she changed the list of travelling officials from the initial agreed upon by board members.
“Awange and her group should be sincere since they were part of the board meetings that selected these officials,” said Oluoch.
She defended the list, adding that those raising claims over mismanagement are sowing sour grapes because they missed out.
“Most of them made trips to the three qualifying championships and nobody made noise,” she said.
Oluoch said they have no power to veto the officials who will travel with the team from the government’s side. She said: “The government is our main sponsor, hence we can’t dictate to them who should travel with the team.”
Awange, who has petitioned the Sports ministry, acknowledged attending the meeting but claimed some people have been left out.
“We do not know how Sh130m from the government and Sh5m given by Safaricom was disbursed to the athletes,” said Awanje.
Interestingly, Oluoch and Treasurer Tito contradicted each other on whether funds from Safaricom had been wired to their account.
While Oluoch said they had used funds from Safaricom for the team’s camp that started on July 24, Tito indicated that they had not received any cash.
According to one list seen by Daily Nation Sport, Maina Kamau, the Chef the Mission, tops the list of those to travel and has Oluoch, executive officer Caroline Kariuki and chief medical officer, Ben Muthiora, amongst others.
The squabbles at the Paralympics team heighten even before the dust settles on the shocking incompetence in the management of Team Kenya to the Rio Olympics which concluded on Sunday.
Kenyan bagged 13 medals; six gold, an equal number of silver and a bronze medal.
High ranking government officials including President Uhuru Kenyatta have roundly condemned the blundering officials promising stern action.