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AK convention apt for athletes to self-appraise

Thursday December 6 2018

Men's 800m winner Wilfred Bungei of Kenya (L)

Men's 800m winner Wilfred Bungei of Kenya (L) celebrates with compatriot Alfred Kirwa Yego, classified in second position, after the final of the athletics competition in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on Saturday. Photo/REUTERS 

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As we race towards Christmas in two weeks, it’s time to reflect on the season as Athletics Kenya.

And is there a better way to do that than come together as athletics family and appraise ourselves?

Some 150 participants will converge on Thursday for a three-day annual Athletics Kenya (AK) Conference at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.

The event will feature both top and upcoming athletes from all the AK affiliates in the country alongside their coaches. The event very important for all the invited athletes and also mandatory.

The conference is expected to feature key topics that not only touch on the athletes’ careers but also lives.

Among the topics to be discussed include anti doping with presentations by the Athletic Integrity Unit (AIU) in light of the recent doping menace that has blighted the country’s athletic performance in the recent past.

Also to be discussed will be career development, sports and education, taxation, investment, travel and visa, retirement, legal and contractual agreements and self-branding. It is no secret that our athletes have fallen short in many areas and the conference is meant to re-brand them.

Doping, for example, continues to be a thorn in everyone’s flesh and it’s only important that we go back to the drawing board and tackle the elephant in the room.

We are fortunate that the AIU have agreed to make presentations and it is important that we all take advantage of this. Career development is another key issue and as we speak, some of our athletes are living in squalor, paradoxically, after very lucrative, money minting careers.

For us to move forward, we must speak about this and see how to save the situation. We can’t continue to have world champions and record holders who have only medals to show for their world exploits. Their lucrative careers must reflect their lives hence the purpose of this conference.

Education is another key component of the athletes lives and we can’t pretend not to know that most of them have dropped out of school to chase quick bucks.

The list does not end there. Our athletes have an opportunity to re-brand and market themselves both at home and abroad.

With the likes of former Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medallist, Patrick Sang, Prof. Mike Boit, a former Olympic 800m bronze medallist, Elias Makori from the media fraternity, and Athletics and Anti Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) among others, I expect interesting conversations at Safari Park Hotel.