Friday, 27 April 2012

Road to Olympics - Los Angeles 1984... Kenya's Back !

1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games logo
After missing two consecutive Games, Kenyan sports people were thrilled to be back on the international arena. But the toll of the boycotts was all clear given the lack of participation. This was reflected on the number of athletes sent and also the performance of the team at large.

As a whole, Los Angeles was one of the most successful Olympic Games. This was thanks to the marketing acumen and organisational skills of one Peter Ueberroth - Time's Magazine Person of the Year 1984. Let's take some highlights here below;

  • 'Returning the favour' for the US-led boycott of 1980 Moscow Games, the USSR led 14 countries in a boycott and went on to hold the Friendship Games. 2 other nations in Iran and Libya meant 16 countries in total boycotted Los Angeles.
  • More than a Sporting Festival - the Games had an elaborate Festival ' the LA Olympic Arts Festival which was held to mark and appreciate the role of arts and sports. In the same vein, the Opening and Closing ceremonies had some of the most elaborate shows of that time. Concerts were organised to feed Games attendants and the world audience with a feast of entertainment.
      Sam the Eagle - 1984 Olympic Games mascot
  • Carl Lewis legend is born - this man who's loved and loathed in almost equal measure ran and jump to equal Jesse Owens 1936 Olympic Games exploits winning 4 gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.  These would be the first of nine gold medals in his Olympic years.
  • Nawal el Moutawakel from Morocco became the first female from a Muslim state to win gold in an Olympic Games. She won this in the 400m women's hurdles.
  • Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin all future NBA Hall of Famers would win their first gold medal as part of the USA Basketball team as amateurs. They would return in 1992 as the Dream Team which included the creme de la creme of the NBA.
  • Lord. Sebastien 'Seb' Coe would become the 1st man to win consecutive titles in the 1500m men's race. 2 decades later he led London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. 

  • 140 nations participated with a total of 6,800 athletes representing these countries;
  • Kenya had 61 athletes ( 56 men and 5 women); participating in Athletics, Boxing, Hockey, Shooting and Weightlifting;
  • Kenya won ONLY 1 Gold ( Julius Korir - 3000m steeplechase), 2 Bronze ( Mike Musyoki - 10000m and Ibrahim Bilali - Flyweight in boxing);
  • The Kenyan men's Hockey team was placed 9th out of 12 nations participating. They were the sole African representatives
Julius Korir - 3000m Gold medal winner in 1984
The Los Angeles Olympic Games marked a positive turn for the IOC which had been reeling from two fairly unsuccessful Games in Montreal and Moscow with the former being a commercial disaster for the Canadian hosts.
It also saw major corporates joining the big league in sports through sponsorship deals which ensured the commercial success of the Games. These included McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Kodak among other major corporations. Nike also achieved much of success due to its links with American athletes who excelled in many of the sporting disciplines. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Kenyan Marathoners - Conquering the World but shall the rest of the team Emulate them?

The last two years have been quite phenomenal in Kenyan athletics. This is mainly due to the ever-enduring and sterling performances by our long- distance athletes and the speciality in discussion is the longer race - the marathon.
Running an approximate distance of 41.6 km ( 26 miles ) if you like on long routes, up some slope and down others and a usual flat course finish is no mean feat. If you have ever tried running this race, you'd know what we're talking about...maybe the next time a marathon comes near you, make a point of registering for it...start with the Nairobi StanChart one!
Number 1 !
Back to the gist of the story, so while our athletes have enjoyed unbridled success in the longer race, it has been a mixed bag of fortunes in lap races in the stadium meets...Grand Prix and others.
One of the stickiest points is the 5000m and 10000m races especially for the men's races. Much redemption has been made by our ladies who have continued growing in stature and stamina to conquer these longest races on the lap races.
But Athletics Kenya and the athletics fraternity in Kenya has not been able to break the jugger-naut. This is especially so, in major meets like the upcoming Olympic Games in London from July. Arguments were given and some frail explanations made about this failure which led to AK ceding control of the qualifiers for the 2 races. They've opted to host them in Prefontaine thanks to some ingenious Nike executive who's surely to mint some good brand mileage ( and maybe some $$$ too...)

Maybe the AK officials are looking for the wrong places to realise the elusive success in these events. They should ask themselves;
  • How come the marathoners have been able to win over 75% of all major marathons around the world?
  • What techniques have they devised to be able to win with such consistency and at such paces that last year the world record in the men's race was lowered by our very own athlete?
  • What lessons can Team Kenya pick from the World Athletics team which managed double gold ( 1-2-3 for women) and (1-2 for men)  in the marathon races?
  • Do Kenyan athletes need foreign tracks to prove their worth?
  • Circa 1988 when Kenya had its best spread of medal haul from 800m to 5000m races in the men's races. What was the recipe for success then?
  • Assume they do go ahead and run both the pre-qualifiers in Kenya and the qualifiers in Prefontaine, will they not be suffering from burn-out by the time they get to London in July?

These lingering thoughts ought to be food for thought for the officials charged with seeing the success of our team in this year's Olympic Games. Over to you Mr. Kiplagat and team ! ( Do we add Mr. Kip Keino & NOCK in the mix too...?) 

Athletics Kenya announced the Kenyan marathoners to represent Kenya in the 2012 Olympic Games in London as follows;
Edna Kiplagat ( Current World Champion , women's marathon)
Mary Keitany ( 2-time winner of London marathon)
Priscah Jeptoo ( Silver medallist in 2011 Daegu World Athletics , women's marathon)

Abel Kirui ( 2-time World Champion marathon winner)
Moses Mosop ( 2011 Boston Marathon winner)
Wilson Kipsang ( 2-time Frankfurt Marathon winner & 2012 London Marathon winner)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Elgon Cup, London Marathon, El Classico - Busy Sporting Weekend

The second last weekend of April represents a nice offering for Kenyan sporting fans. What with all the rains pounding much of the country, it's a mostly indoors affair for Kenyan (save for the fact that @KenyaPower may have other ideas depending on your side of the hood...)
This one has quite a flurry of activity and sporting events to look out for;

Elgon Cup poster
Kenya's rivalry with Uganda for the 2012 Elgon Cup is renewed tomorrow at the famous Kyadondo Grounds in Kampala. The last few haunts to that ground have not been very successful for Kenyans. The coach Mike 'Tank' Otieno has introduced quite a number of fresh players hoping to expose these to the tougher and longer version of the game ( 15-a-side). We pray for a Kenya win and wish the best in their Kyadondo outing.The game will be screened live on SuperSport.

The local league continues with some interesting fixtures such as the AFC Leopards v/s Tusker in Mombasa, Gor Mahia v/s Ulinzi Stars in Nakuru, among others. Leopards is slowly building a gap at the top, but these are early stages and 2-3 games can quickly change what may have seemed like a sterling season. Gor Mahia will be playing their first game after the decision to discipline their fans for the fracas during the AFC v/s Gor Mahia game. There is also the #BongaBoli  follow on Twitter @BongaBoli promo seeking a Kiswahili football-caster for SuperSport as they develop content for their East African channel 9. This weekend they visit the lakeside town of Kisumu.
Internationally there is the EPL big one Arsenal ( which enjoys quite a following around this part of the world) and Chelsea. It's the feature game on Saturday starting at 1445hours. Later in the evening is the biggest derby in club football in Spain where Barcelona faces up Real Madrid for the title race. Each of these sides came out of UEFA Champions League licking their wounds. It ought to be a cracker as Lionel Messi tries to outscore Cristiano Ronaldo - for the Pichichi Award.

After a fairly successful outing of Kenyan marathoners last weekend in Boston, Sunday, the London marathon is back! After taking both the men's and women's title, this will be no walk in the park as the Ethiopians and also some Chinese will hoping to make the podium.
This race will help (or further complicate...) the selection process for the Kenyan team for the Olympic Games which come back to this city in July-August later this year.
Emmanuel Mutai will be hoping to defend his win last year but will have to give chase to 3-time winner Martin Lel, world record holder Patrick Makau and world champion Abel Kirui. A tough call to pick the winner right there!
Mary Keitany leads the women's charge and will be given a run by one of the Dibaba sisters Ejegayehu Dibaba.

Formula One
Bahrain GP
Yes this sport has developed quite a following in the country even when some of the races are in some ungodly hours of Sunday morning or evening. This weekend sees GP teams visiting the Arab state of Bahrain. The first practice session today saw Lewis Hamilton emerge tops amidst controversies and tomorrow the cars and drivers take back to the track to see who attains pole position in the starting grid.
All the above action is available on the SuperSport channels for those who feel like staying indoors. If you can afford to hang out at a pal's or your local hang-out, then these too can provide you with some nice weekend action!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dennis Oliech, FKF & EABL - Get it Together People!

Tusker Sponsorship stirs Harambee Stars' Nest

While the remuneration saga has been going on for the last few weeks now, Dennis Oliech's retirement threat seems to have finally caught the football world's attention.  A brief history of this is that, East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) through its flagship brand  Tusker confirmed sponsorship of the national football team Harambee Stars in anticipation of the Africa Cup of Nations 2013 qualifiers and the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil....all good so far...
Mariga, Oliech & Mugalia (Image that stirred the Hornet's Nest) -
As part of the agreement whose details have yet to be revealed but Harambee Stars Management Board seems to know, EABL were allegedly given rights to use the images of the national players as part of their promotional material to drive their brand communication.
Now that's where the line becomes blurred.
Oliech came out openly in the use of his image (along with MacDonald Mariga & Ben Mugalia) for the Tusker promotion. FKF and the Harambee Stars Management Board accused him of his lack of loyalty to the national cause and sacrificing self to play for Kenya.

Players' Endorsements & Players Dues
While some may argue that Dennis Oliech is a professional and should overlook the said endorsement fees, it calls to fore the use of Kenyan sports personalities and lack of proper remuneration and contractual commitments.
Looking at the EABL/Tusker sponsorship, that brand generates millions in sales and even if they might not feel inclined to pay the individual players, it would be presumed to be part of the KShs. 110 million committed. Sponsorship fees made by Kenyan corporate firms are usually committed to the national teams or otherwise but most of these funds never actually trickle down to the players and if they do, its miniscule.
Enter Football Kenya Federation, though in office for only a few months, they have not entirely endeared themselves to the national team players. Already one of the best goalkeepers in Arnold Origi announced his retirement last year after Kenya's failure to  qualify for Africa Cup of Nations in 2012. MacDonald Mariga also complained about non-committal arrangements in refund of his air-flight tickets for national team engagements. Read in interesting article here on national team players' welfare.
If you look at the complaints they are coming from the professional players who interact with other players in the European leagues. Thus they would have an idea of what they are claiming to be their rightful dues.
Back to FKF, we know that players have often turned up for national engagements without allowances for months on end. That a few players don't mind playing for Harambee Stars even if they're paid a pittance are supposed to be old stories.

To bring this rant to a logical end,
  1. EABL and FKF should ensure they outline the details of the sponsorship agreement, even if they have to disclose such details as who gets what and promotional material usage etc.
  2. Also Kenyan corporate firms, it's about time you paid up a little more to our Kenyan sports personalities. 
  3. Kenyan and other corporate firms, when making any commitment to sports activities, remember at the final end the players welfare is paramount. Without this, the end consumer that you target will be a disillusioned lot and that's not what your brand(s) stand for.
  4. Its about time Kenyan football players formed a Players' Association. And if there is one then it's not doing its work. Player grievances and issues such as player contracts, players remuneration, injuries, agents' activities and all others relating to players should be addressed through a common voice. This will ensure you have a strong bond and common purpose to realising the interests of players.

Road to Olympics - 1976 Montreal & 1980 Moscow Games Boycotts Galore...

99 days to London Olympic Games, we continue with the Road to Olympics. 
In this review , we look at the forgettable moments in Kenya's history when her sports personalities were affected by economic and geo-political reasons meaning consecutive boycotts in Montreal in 1976 and in Moscow - 1980.

Montreal 1976:
After the breach of tranquil at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, countries across the world decided to use the Games a perfect platform to prove a point or two especially where the Cold War and other political ideologies clashed.
Montreal had seemed to have escaped this up until the opening ceremony when Congolese Jean Claude Ganga and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere among other African leaders urge African countries to leave the Games. This was in protesting a move by the New Zealand rugby team's All Blacks tour to apartheid South Africa ( even though rugby was NOT an Olympic discipline).
Most countries had already sent in their squads and though it was a moral issue to support the boycott, this dented many a sportsmen and women who were approaching the prime or in the sunset of their careers.
Kenya's prowess in the middle and longer distances would not be for show as athletes such as Henry Rono, (Dr). Mike BoitMike Musyoki and also boxers such as Stephen Muchoki - who would never taste Olympic glory.
There were a few highlights though that need be noted from Montreal Games;
  • 10-point score Nadia Comaneci - this is a feat that had never been achieved and has never been attained either. The then 14-year old Romanian ended up winning 3 gold including the prestigious All-Around which effectively put her into Olympic folklore.
  • 5 American boxers won Gold medals in their respective weights. 4 of those would turn professional and have fairly successive careers. These were Sugar Ray Leonard, brothers Leon Spinks and Michael Spinks and Leo Randolph. The fifth boxer was Howard Davis Jr - Val Baker Trophy winner in Montreal - who turned down offers to turn professional.
  • Princess Anne - member of British royalty participated as part of the Horse riding or Equestrian team. She was the ONLY one not forced to comply to a sex-test.
  • Future Japanese PM Taro Aso  took part representing Japan in shooting 
  • 92 countries took part ; 6073 athletes took part in 198 events in 23 disciplines. The drop was obvious due to the late boycotts.
Moscow 1980
After the boycott of the 1976 Games, though the then USSR had tried putting up a marvellous show, its invasion of Afghanistan meant another boycott led this time by USA. The Games were at the height of their propagation by Governments across the world to push their political and economic agendas. The USSR needed to prove that it could pull off a major event of this magnitude but with the other super-power USA able to pull the mat from under them, it didn't quite have the impact the Soviets wanted.
The US held what they called the Liberty Bell Classic also referred to as ' Olympic Boycott Games'.  
Going the Games proper though, due to the reduced number of participants it proved to have few controversies and traditional rivalries never realised. Here's a review of some of the interesting highlights;
  • Ethiopia's Miruts Yifter won the 5000m and 10000m - grabbing the double for the men's events. This was emulating Lasse Viren's feats in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games
  • 5259 athletes participated in 203 events for 23 sports - this represented one of the lowest figures of overall participants since 1968 in Mexico. 
  • East Europe and Communist-leaning nations were among the major winners thanks to the boycott to more capitalist states.
  • The Games had the lowest number of drug cheats since the practice was introduced in 1964 in Tokyo.
  • The closing ceremony introduced a practice of hoisting the next host city's flag and lowering the Olympic flag. 
  • This was the last time Kenya boycotted an Olympic Games 

Friday, 13 April 2012

Boston Marathon & Rotterdam Marathon - Some Other Great Outings for Kenyan Marathoners

Hoping to continue what was great year in 2011, Kenyan marathoners go at it again this weekend. Starting with the Rotterdam Marathon in the Dutch city, the Kenyans will be looking to attain better times for what will surely be a tough year for those hoping to make it to the Olympic squad. The selection of this team is already giving Athletics Kenya officials headaches.
Kenyan runners in Rotterdam -
Moses Mosop will lead Kenya's onslaught and hope to earn bragging rights in the race which is slowly becoming a launching pad for Kenyan marathoners hoping to make an impact in the bigger and 'richer' (in terms of prize money) races.  Others include Sammy Kitwara, Stephen Kibet among others. The race takes place on Sunday 15th of April.
A day later on 16th April , marathoners streak through the streets of Boston in the Boston Marathon - one of the most pretigious marathon races in the world. This race has become a tradition for Kenyan runners and many names have been made in this US city. From the likes of Cosmas Ndeti, Moses Tanui, Ibrahim Hussein to most recent winners in Geoffrey Mutai & Robert 'Mwafrika' K. Cheruiyot, it attracts the creme de la creme of marathons across the world.
Geoffrey Mutai is leading Kenya's challenge as Robert K. Cheruiyot dropped out due to some injury concerns.  In the women's race, Caroline Kilel will be hoping to retain her title in Boston as they launched one of Kenya's best year's in marathon racing history to become world beaters in the World Athletics championships.

Wondering if any of these Kenyans will attempt the world record set last year by Patrick Makau to break mold into the Olympic Games team proper. In a week's time, the next marathon station moves to the UK in the prestigious London Marathon.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Kenya Basketball Elections 2012 – Who’s Who

After weeks of subdued activity, the candidates offering themselves for the different positions for running the Kenyan basketball game have been revealed.
From our earlier post, it seems the man at the helm is going for re-election as is the ones running the Fixtures Secretary and Secretary- General positions’. Some interesting faces include Abraham Muthogo who’s worked with many a financial institutions and would be hoped to infuse some form of business enterprise into the federation. He's also a former player having played for Barclays Eagles, Co-op Bank among other KBF- Premier League's teams. 
Also Dr. Liz Odera of Sadili Oval – a sports development institution which at one time hosted Sadili Basketball team and Sadili Basketball tournament – the centre currently hosts various academies in football, rugby, tennis, swimming and of course basketball - Dr. Odera is well-versed in youth sports development.
Angela Yvonne Luchivya – a seasoned ladies' basketballer – if we had a Hall of Fame in Kenya’s basketball scene, she would definitely make the cut. From surviving a brush with death when their team lost about 5 members and their technical director – the then Barclays Eaglets, she endured months of physiological and mental rehab before coming back to play for Sprite Storms and making it to the national team. She’s sure to inspire the young and also bring in some good corporate acumen she’s acquired while working at Coca-Cola Kenya.
Here’s a complete list of the positions and the vying candidates. Let’s meet at Nyayo National stadium – Basketball gym at 0900 hours;

Chairperson: - Paul Otula: Abraham Abrash,Muthogo
Vice Chair: - George Omondi; Hilmi Ali
2nd Vice Chair:- Donald Liru, Dr. Liz Odera, Gitau Waringo
Sec-Gen: - Vitalis Gode
Ass. Sec: - Ambrose Kisoi, Jane Makale, Bosire Bogonko
Treasurer: - Peter Orero, Angela Luchivya
Ass. Treasurer: - Luke Ogolla
Fixtures Sec: - Joseph Amoko, David Demba
Ass. Fix Sec: - Charles Goro, Edwin Oguta

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Coca-Cola renaming Nyayo National Stadium - SSMB

After the initial botched move in 2009 when Coca-Cola East Africa had finalised a process of renaming the Nyayo National stadium, Sports Stadia Management Board - SSMB,will today make a formal announcement on the same naming process.
Since Nyayo National stadium is the second largest yet most strategic stadium, and also closest to Coca-Cola headquarters ( not that it counts...), it was only wise that SSMB to consider this venture. Though it had undergone repairs in 2010 to host the continental Africa Athletics championships,the venue has borne the burden of hosting a myriad of matches as well as national events which have heavily cost the playing surface.
Nyayo National Stadium - aerial view
The venue has also seen the worst incidences of hooliganism, thanks to over-the-top football fans. Some of its other facilities have also undergone disrepair at the basketball, handball, volleyball and swimming facilities.

This sponsorship by Coca-Cola EA will hope to have the funds to repair and spruce up the venue and its diverse choice of facilities. It will also hope to position itself as a suitable venue for various sporting events usually held here.

This is a bold move by SSMB and they can replicate the same in the other venues they have been mandated to repossess and run. They can approach corporate firms which would also work with local governments to rebuild sports venues. This can be facilitated through affordable infrastructure bonds which would mean medium to long-term investment in infrastructure.

It will also bode well for County governments to engage private developers to make suitable property developments within their respective centres to make them attractive and competitive.

For now, its another laudable move by Coca-Cola EA!

Kenyan Cricket - Enter the Maasai Warrior !

The dismal performance of the Kenyan national cricket team during the ICC World Cup Twenty20 was witness to the low levels the game has deteriorated in the country. It's been a slow and gradual process where Cricket officials seem to have no clue of what ails the sport and how they can salvage the game. The technical team has also not seen any much positive change since the current coach New Zealander - Mike Hesson took over, replacing West Indies-origin, Eldine Baptiste.

This is tragic considering that the country has some truly talented cricketers both current and retired. A few weeks ago, Maurice Odumbe was in some talk-show and though most would not want to agree with everything he says, the one thing we'd recommend is use of these retired hands to inspire the current breed of players.
Just like what happens in other sports, the experienced players will always have a skill or two to impart and also lead the team from the front when it counts. Cricket Kenya officials have not been very enthusiast engaging older players in developing the local teams and having them as part of the advisory for the national team.

Maasai Cricket Warriors -
Now with the sport slowly taking a back seat as we approach the end of the One-Day International (ODI) status in 2013, the country will stand to lose the much-needed exposure of international games. Without this, it will be a hard call qualifying for the next World Cup scheduled for 2015 even though signs have been ominous that Test-playing nations will not entertain lesser minions in future World Cups.

Maybe it's about time we called in the cricket-playing Maasais onto the national team... They might inject the much-needed vigour and stamina to take back Kenya's place among respected non-Test playing countries....

{ The Maasai Cricket Warriors are currently in South Africa taking part in the Last Man Stands - World Championships in  South Africa in the Happy Hitters category. You can check their link here and also follow the Last Man Stands tournament live tweets on @LMSWorldChamps }

P&G 'runs' with National Olympic Committe of Kenya - London' s 2012 Olympics preparations

This morning, Procter & Gamble (P&G) - (EA) will sign a sponsorship deal with the National Olympic Committee of Kenya as the latter continues making preparations for the London 2012 Olympics. In a deal worth KSh. 14 million, with KSh. 9 million going to youth development while the balance of 5 million goes to preparation of the London Olympics team. A positive move in the right direction indeed from Kenyan corporate firms...
Image from

P&G-EA handles the greater Eastern Africa region of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Its flagship products include personal care products such as Always, Gillette and Pampers as well as cleaning products such as Ariel and Oral B along with Vicks and DuraCell. Though considered one of the lesser subsidiaries on a global scale, the company's connections with England (and Ireland) may have played a factor. Also the need to secure early  positions for what will likely be branding and marketing opportunities to identify with Kenyan sports personalities, comes into play.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) has also been calling on corporate firms to make good their commitment to support sport. They recently launched a loyalty card - Kimbia Card - to raise the much-needed funds for preparing and taking the national team to London in August. The initiative is  to work in tandem with expected corporate support and Government funding which will match shilling-for-shilling raised.
Kimbia Card -

Hoping the NOCK does not waste this opportunity to raise funds and carry excess officials leaving out sports participants as has previously happened in continental and international championships. 

This deal is part by P&G global support to the Olympics for the next 5 years. Kudos to the P&G- EA office for taking the lead in securing our athletes a place in Olympic history!

In Related News....
Rumour has it that some rather enthusiast supporters of two of the main suspects to the International Crimes Court in the Hague  have suggested boycotting the London Olympics. This is a dangerous and most illogical thought which should be treated with the all the contempt that it deserves. NO single individual or group of Kenyans SHOULD HOLD the country at RANSOM for accusations or intended court processes locally or internationally.
Enough Said!