Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Road to Olympics : 1960 Rome Games - Kenya's Second Appearance

Kenya’s slowly cements her place in Olympic History
1960 – Rome Olympic Games
Starting with the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome- Italy, Kenya inched closer to making statements at the Summer Games. This was under 4 years to the country’s independence and the local populace was rising to national patriotism to see that the country gets its place in the family of states across the world. By the next Games, the country will have talent that's matured and taking the world by storm.
1960 Olympic Games
Globally the world was slowly coming to the realisation of the need for a new world order as the ‘wind of change’ swept across the African continent with colonies earning their new found independence.
Politically and economically there were few controversies and crisis which meant the Games proceeded with no boycotts for the first time in a long while.

  • 83 countries took part ( though they would have been 84 had Surinam’s sole athlete not withdrawn)
  • 5350 participants, a swell by over 2000 from the 1956 Games (4738 men & 612 women);
  • Kenya participated in 4 sporting disciplines, 13 events once again – athletics, hockey, sailing and shooting
  • 27 participants from Kenya all men.
  • Dismal show with only Nyandoro Maiyoro making it to 5000m final to place 6th
This would be the last time that Kenya NEVER won a single medal in the Olympics. 

Interesting Facts:
  • One of Kenya's budding talents in Athletics in Kenya, Seraphino Antao was one of the participants but didn't quite make a mark. 
  • Abebe Bikila announced Ethiopia's & indeed Eastern Africa's entry into Olympic mythology by winning the marathon  barefoot.
  • One Cassius Marcellus Clay, later to be known Muhammad Ali wins the light heavyweight title preparing the way for global stage of arguably the world's biggest boxing fighter.
  • South Africa makes its last appearance in the Games thanks to the adoption of their oppressive regime rule of apartheid.
  • Cassius Clay ( now Muhammad Ali in 1960 Rome) - image courtesy of
  • TV Broadcasts rights are sold to CBS for screening in the United States, paving the way for what would become lucrative business for the IOC later ( of selling media screening rights).
Other Facts around 1960:
  • The Space Race between the US and USSR ( now mainly Russia) started in earnest and would culminate with man on the Moon by the end of the decade.
  • US voters brought in charismatic Irish origin John. F. Kennedy - the only Catholic faith US president up until then.
  • The Pill was introduced to the masses and much to the relieve of many females especially in the developed world.
  • UK Prime Minister Harold McMillan delivers the Wind of Change speech in British colonies of Ghana's and South Africa's Parliament ( funny that the latter state enforced minority rule while the rest of Africa was getting liberated around the same time...)
These Olympic Games would serve as the least controversial of the 1960s decade which was riddled with all sorts of cultural evolutions, revolutions in countries and continents as well as major economic and political challenges that would in turn interfere with sport. 

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