Friday, 4 May 2012

Road to Olympics - 1988 Seoul Olympics - 5-Gold Performance!

1988 is one great year for Kenya in many ways. The country was marking 25 years since independence from its colonial masters ( as well as 10 years of the then Pres.Moi...). The country had also just held a fairly successful 4th All-Africa Games in Nairobi which formed the basis for the success to be seen in Seoul-South Korea. Here are some of the highlights for the Games;
Seoul 1988 - XXIV Olympiad

Interesting Facts:
  • It would the 2nd time for an Asian city to host the Games, after Tokyo;
  • Only 8 countries boycotted the Games slowly marking an end to these 'shows of might' by the then super-powers.
  • Last time for Soviet Union (USSR) and East Germany taking part as independent states. One year later, the USSR would break into different States as would other Eastern Europe Soviet-backed states such as Czechoslovakia. Only East Germany which became united with the West to form German Federal State;
  • 159 countries took part with 8453 participants , a marked improvement thanks to reduced boycotts and renewed interest in the sporting element of the Games;
  •  237 events took place in 27 sports;
  • Kenya participated in 7 disciplines ; Athletics, Boxing, Hockey, Judo, Shooting, Weightlifting and Wrestling
  • There were 74 participants from Kenya - 70 men & 4 women;
  • (The late) Florence Griffith-Joyner - US Sprint sensation , she won Gold in 100m, 200m and 4x100m and also silver  in the 4x400m. Just as she had come, so did she leave the sport, dying 10 years later;
  • Steffi Graf - women's tennis queen won the women's tennis title to top a great year of winning the Grand Slam. Tennis has returned to the Olympics after a 64-year hiatus;
  • Roy Jones Jr, US light middleweight boxer, controversially lost his bout to South Korea's Park Hi-Sun but was awarded the Val Barker Trophy;
  • The biggest scandal in Olympic Sport history occurred when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the 100m  in world record time then of 9.79 secs. Days later he would test positive for performance enhancing drugs bringing the curtain down on one of athletics biggest cheats. This would also end his bitter rivalry with Carl Lewis.
 Kenya's Stats: In unprecedented style, the country's sportsmen turned this into a Gold medal bonanza in a little over 5 days.
Hodori - 1988 Seoul Olympics mascot
  • (The late)Robert Wangila Napunyi would become the first Kenyan and African boxer to ever win an Olympic gold medal after knocking out Frenchman Laurent Boudouani in the 2nd round - no Kenyan boxer has come close since. Chris Sande also joined medal bracket by losing semi-final thus earning Bronze in Middleweight.
  • The two boxers were part of the 'Hit Squad' one of Kenya's most successful boxing squads which had represented the country in the King's Cup in Thailand, gaining valuable experience and winning 8 out of 12 available gold medals in the 4th All Africa Games held in Nairobi in 1987. 12of the boxers took part in Seoul
  • Kenyan athletes dominated the middle races by winning Gold in the 800m ( Paul Ereng), 1500m ( Peter Rono) , 3000m steeplechase ( Julius Kariuki) and 5000m (John Ngugi). Silver Medals came through Peter Koech in 3000m s/chase and Douglas Wakiihuri marathon. The only other Bronze medal was awarded to Kipkemboi Kimeli in 10000m.
  • 1988 would mark the last time for Kenya representing the African continent in the Olympic Games. The men's team had won gold in 1987's All Africa Games thus earning the berth. It was the end of an era for the game not just internationally but at continental level too.
  • The best Kenyan outing OVERALL not just in the number of medals but also in the spread of the medals and participants! 

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