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Shame of neglected budding stars

Friday May 17 2019

sports funding

Susan Gatwiri. She was the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games champion. She says the government has not given her money for her winnings. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PAULINE ONGAJI
By PAULINE ONGAJI
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Kenya enjoys recognition the world over, thanks to numerous medals bagged by its athletes in various disciplines.

While such abilities would prompt other countries to nurture their young upcoming sports stars, in many cases the story here is different.

Young athletes are not receiving the required support from the government.

GATWIRI

Susan Gatwiri is one of them. She represented Kenya in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in the US, bagging two gold medals: in the 5,000 metres and 3,000 metres contest.

It is a fact that saw this 21-year-old feted at the SOYA Awards in 2016, a recognition that came with Sh75,000.

But that is where her story ends. Gatwiri never got any money from her triumph at the Special Olympics.

According to a statement by Special Olympics Kenya early this year, Gatwiri was promised Sh200,000 for every gold medal she bagged, but that has not happened nearly four years down the line.

HOUSE HELP

Ms Susan Masila, Special Olympics Kenya national director, says the agency is not part of the payment process. “Our only duty is to submit the names of the athletes to the Ministry of Sports on their behalf,” she says.

Our efforts to get a comment from Sports, Culture and Heritage Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia were fruitless, as our calls went unanswered.

In the meantime, Gatwiri has nothing but the medals and certificates she was awarded.

And no, she does not strike one as a Special Olympics gold medallist.

For nearly two years now, this soft-spoken former runner has been working as a house help in Skuta Estate, Nyeri County, earning Sh7,000 a month, money she uses to take care of her ailing mother and younger siblings who live in Judeya village.

NO FUNDING

Lucy Achieng’s is an extraordinary story of success in a quite unfamiliar field in Kenya. She is the African roller skating champion.

This 21-year-old has been on a winning streak since she first wore roller-skating boots.

She was one of the players that lifted the Kenyan flag high in the world championships in India nearly five years ago, winning more than 20 medals.

In November last year, she won Kenya not one, two, or three, but seven medals at the Second African Speed Skating Championships in Cairo, Egypt.

In spite of bringing the country glory in this new sport, she did not receive a single cent.

According to Kenya Federation of Roller Skating secretary-general Lameck Wafula, the agency did not receive any money from the government.

“We financed our trip fully. We only received Sh500,000, from Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko while we were still in Egypt,” he says.

ICE HOCKEY

He says that the federation still owes a tour and travel agency Sh1.9 million in air tickets for the 16 participants who travelled to Egypt.

Gideon Mutua Amiani, a Form Two student at Golden Light High School in Huruma, Nairobi, is definitely not your ordinary 18-year-old.

Mutua is the youngest player in the only Kenyan senior ice hockey team, The Kenya Ice Lions.

But Mutua’s life is far from that of a champion. Besides tens of medals and certificates, he has not been rewarded monetarily.

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