Despite having a busy month on the athletics calendar, I have chosen to celebrate the departed Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore.
Safaricom not only spread its sponsorship wings to other sporting disciplines but Collymore fell in love with athletics and the sport has been part and parcel of the organization since he took up the mantle almost a decade ago.
Safaricom, under Collymore, was all over in athletics either in cross country championships, track meets, road races or marathons.
Collymore did not care how many athletics events were on his budgetary schedule as long as they could connect the communities and the country at large just like the organisation he headed.
Safaricom, and particularly Collymore, is the brainchild behind the Ndalat children’s race and some of the products are now preparing to represent the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The man (Collymore) could not miss this race as long as he was in the country.
Besides the regional athletics meetings, Safaricom has been directly involved in sponsoring national trials, preparing teams to World Championships, Olympics, Commonwealth Games and handsomely rewarded medallists after various global events.
Did I also say that he has taken Sports Personality of the Year Awards (Soya) to another level? Yes, he did!
He believed in the full growth of an athlete— meaning nurturing kids from the grassroots to the very top.
When the country cared less about the disability, Collymore took up the responsibility and instilled confidence in them and made them part and parcel of the sporting family.
He had a way with the special categories that no one could comprehend.
He sponsored their training, trials, trips and even rewarded them after major championships.
Safaricom generally cut across the country and even athletes in the remote villages felt the power of athletics courtesy of Safaricom and this was ostensibly due to the able leadership of one Collymore.
The list is endless but in brief, athletics was the biggest beneficiary of Safaricom’s generosity under Collymore.
The man transformed the sport — making Safaricom the biggest athletics sponsor in the country and perhaps only second to Nike globally.
For us, we will always celebrate Bob Collymore as we pray that the partnership is taken to the next memory in his honour.
Korir is the chairman of Athletics Kenya’s Nairobi branch. [email protected]