Wednesday, 8 August 2012


By Elias Makori.

Kenya came into the London
Olympics with high hopes, everyone
confident that we would surpass the
performance of Beijing four years ago
where Team Kenya scooped six gold,
four silver and four bronze medals.
But the pre-Games tension between
the National Olympic Committee of
Kenya and Athletics Kenya has thrown
Kenya’s campaign to the dogs.
It is sad watching our sports officials,
with their bloated egos, fighting turf
wars at the expense of the country’s
respected name and image.
Many will wonder just how Vivian
Cheruiyot, the double world
champion (5,000 and 10,000 metres)
faded away badly in the opening day’s
10,000m final and indeed why London
Marathon champion Mary Keitany
failed to get a medal in the marathon
last Sunday.
Questions arise from the women’s
steeplechase debacle and the fact that
we have just Hellen Obiri in
Wednesday’s 1,500m semi-finals or
how we failed to break the 44-year
jinx in the men’s 10,000m.
Well the answer to these questions is
simple: Our officials have let us down
terribly and they must do the
honourable thing and take the long
walk away from managing sport in the
country. Period.
Management abandoned officials
We raised the flag when a dozen
officials from Kenya’s Olympics
management team literally
abandoned athletes to rush to a pre-
season camp in Bristol that meant
little in terms of quality preparations,
especially for distance runners.
We saw Ezekiel Kemboi travel to
Bristol, and then flee back home due
to the atrocious conditions there,
where the recalcitrant NOCK officials
set up camp merely to rake in their
$300-a-day allowances, totally
ignoring the fact that serious
competition awaited the team at the
Olympic Stadium.
The tab was picked by the toiling
There was drama as Vivian’s husband
and personal coach, along with one of
the team’s coaches and doctor were
locked out of the Olympic Village by
the NOCK team led by executive
officer Stephen arap Soi and general
team manager James Chacha, leaving
Vivian, our red-hot medal hope, in
Vivian was shattered and it was hardly
surprising that she failed to pick
herself up and take the battle to
Tirunesh Dibaba.
This didn’t bother Soi and his team
who have misused the trust bestowed
upon them by NOCK chairman, our
legend Kipchoge Keino, who, as a
respected member of the
International Olympic Committee, is
playing multiple roles here, delegating
the management of Team Kenya to
Soi, Chacha and company.
Personal wars
Vivian’s loss on Day One should have
fired a wake-up call, but rather than
address the issue, Soi and company
continued with their personal wars
with Athletics Kenya, declaring the AK
chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, persona
non grata at the Olympic Village.
As the selfish turf wars continued, we
lost the men’s 10,000m, where Wilson
Kiprop, winner of the controversial
trials in Oregon, pulled out with an
injury that the Team Kenya officials
knew about at the Kasarani camp but
failed to address. What a shame!
AK’s decision to hold the trials in
Oregon will seriously be questioned,
as will Soi’s decision to lock out one of
the team’s medics while knowing that
some of the athletes, like
steeplechaser Lydia Rotich, who is
asthmatic, needed round the clock,
personal medical attention.
Journalists critical of Soi and the NOCK
management team have been
declared unwanted guests at the
Olympic Village, Soi’s team eager to
sweep the management rot under the
carpet as medals continue to,
painfully, slip away from our grasp.
Many joyriders
The issue of joyriders in Team Kenya
hasn’t been addressed, while the
rather unprofessional manner in
which distribution of training and
competition kit has been managed
here continues to irk the athletes, with
some of them, like swimmers Jason
and David Dunford, taking no chances
and purchasing their own strip.
As things stand here, Kenyans should
be prepared for the worst, unless
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, here for
the final days of the Games, works out
wonders to lift the dying Kenyan spirit.
Unless this happens, I can only
predict just three more gold medals
from Pamela Jelimo (800m), David
Rudisha (800m) and Wilson Kipsang
Forget about the women’s 5,000m,
men’s 5,000m or even women’s
1,500m where the gold medals
belong to Tirunesh Dibaba, Dejen
Gebremeskel and Fantou Magiso, all
of Ethiopia, respectively.
No personalised training
Unless the Prime Minister cracks the
whip, and unless we see the backs of
the NOCK officials who have seriously
let the athletes and the country down,
we should not expect sporting glory
to come any time soon.
The issue of pre-Games training, lack
of focus by AK’s top management and
the absence of personalised training
for our athletes are issues we will
tackle another day.
Meanwhile, we await the report of the
Parliamentary team investigating
similar mismanagement of the Kenyan
team at the last All Africa Games in
Maputo where the same officials are
implicated. Will we ever learn?

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