Thursday, 14 October 2010

Kenya's Best Commonwealth Outing - Our Future looks Bright...

Thanks to our athletes our very modest predictions have been clearly outdone and that's great to note. The success of the outing is a great motivator to future generations engaging in sport - at least now we can build on something and not rest on our laurels.
Though major sporting nations were not represented, this didn't stop our sportsmen putting on a good showing and going the extra mile to ensure they challenged the pecking order of Commonwealth nations. This was our best outing ever at the Club Games and we shall shine the spotlight on a few of the sportsmen/women we thought did a great job out there;

1) Jason Dunford (Gold Medal 50m Butterflystroke) - Without any doubt, he is edging his place into the history books from his international outings. Coming from a non-traditional country in the swimming circles and also given the fact they we do not have the right facilities, the gods have been good to their cause with the university (Stanford) providing a great training ground. The family has also been more than supportive helping ensure the boys get training facilities in Europe which have been well tested. His past African and Olympic exploits are coming to fruition and still rising.
If those who award national awards are listening those Elder of the Golden Heart and Moran of the Burning Spear should not be awarded to taciturn and bureaucratic civil servants and politicians, these are the people who deserve them.
Verdict: 5 Stars

2) Nancy Jebet Langat( 800m & 1500m Gold )-At the 2008 Olympic Games, Kenyans read the headlines of a double gold medal win - one from the 800m men's contest by the more flamboyant and captain of Kenyan team Wilfred Bung'ei. The other gold was from the then little known Nancy Jebet -who's so unassuming other athletes underestimate her tenacity. Well this year she springs another suprise by doing a double in yes her speciality the 1500m and 800m. Some may say that the top athletes in the distance in the likes of Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei and South Africa's Caster Semenya were not around but who cares? She did her bit and was rewarded for that.
Verdict: 5 Stars

Mark Mutai just makes it - courtesy of
3) Mark Kiprotich Mutai (400m Gold Medal & 4x400m silver ) - having shown some great sprint work at the African Athletics Championships and being denied a bronze medal in the individual 400m race he made it even sweeter stretching the Australian in the 400m and winning by the slimmest of margins. He also anchored the 4x400m relay team and scorched the track and missing the gold but settling for second-best.
Verdict: 4 Stars

4) Milcah Cheywah, Mercy Wanjiru Njoroge, Gladys Jerotich Kipkemoi (3000m Women's Steeplechase Gold , Silver & Bronze )  - theirs may have seemed like an easy race but when you come up and decide to share the spoils between yourselves and annihilate the competition from the other countries, that's no mean achievement. The water obstacle and how one jumped as they said is what won the race and  Milcah led the way for a Kenyan 1-2-3 sweep.
Verdict: 3 Stars

5) Irene Kosgei & John Eriku Elai ( Women & Men's Marathon Gold ) - waiting for an event till the last day in the humid conditions of the Indian sub-continent is not an easy thing. It also doesn't help when all your role models are busy winning the marathons in more lucrative races as the Boston, Berlin marathons portend. But the two decided to run their races and the former Irene led another Irene ( Mogake) into a 1-2 for the Commonwealth race.
Verdict: 3 Stars

6) Boaz, Richard and Abraham Kiplagat(not related) (800m Gold,Silver and Bronze) - slowly making up for lost ground are the men's 800m athletes who are trying to emulate the 1980s & 90s exploits of Billy Konchellah, Paul Ereng and William Sigei. They did this with style getting another 1-2-3 sweep.
Verdict : 3 Stars

Grace Momanyi - courtesy of Flickr
7) Grace Momanyi ( Gold Women 10000m) & Silas Kiplagat (1500m Gold) - She and Doris Chepkwemo gave Kenyans another 1-2 finish which continued the trend of the Kenyan athletes in the Games. Same case to Silas Kiplagat leading James Kiplangat in the 1500m race.
Verdict: 3 Stars

Special Mentions:
- Grace Wanjiru - 20 Km Bronze medallist
Richard Mateelong  & 3000m Steeplechase medallists
- Benson Njangiru - Silver Medallist - Flyweight
- Rugby Sevens Team ( very modestly here for beating Samoa at most)

By close of the Games, Kenya topped the athletics medal table  11 Gold, 10 Silver & 9 Bronze medals( ahead of South Africa and Nigeria...hehehe) and that's a great achievement. As said there earlier, if the Kenyan authorities were to be genuine enough in awarding national honours, these are some who deserve to be on that roll.  We had also kept our forecast realistic but they have proved they have what it takes to be at international meets.

Brand Kenya too needs to wake from the slumber (though we are told someone is working on it....imagine someone in India remembers Maurice Odumbe even after we sacrificed him on the corridors of justice....tragic!)

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