Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Zuku to Screen African Athletics Championships - 27th June - 1st July

Wananchi Group through its Zuku flagship - Zuku Sports more specifically - will screen the continental Athletics championships which start today 27th June to 1st July 2012. This is in line of improving its offering for sports enthusiasts and subscribers to its triple play (bandwidth, Tv and voice) services.
Hannelie Bekker as quoted said " securing the exclusive rights to broadcast such an important athletics event in East Africa is a huge honor. It is a big year for sport, African athletes are doing well, and we're delighted to showcase and celebrate that."
Zuku has been offering quite the variety in its sports menu having already secured screening rights for the Diamond League which is one of the premiere athletics sports events on the IAAF circuit. The African Athletics championships comes hot on the heels of Olympic qualifiers from the various athletics powerhouses in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa among others.

No more excuses for lack of sporting action!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Kenya's Olympic Trials - Some 'Mini Olympics'

Its interesting that the races going on this weekend are referred to as trials, should be more like qualifiers...maybe we're unfazed by the English language... Speaking of the English, just over a month to go, Kenya shall be sending her contingent to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Athletics has been and remains Kenya's mainstay for the gold haunt.

With a total of 78 medals won in all Olympic Games Kenya has participated in, Athletics has won us, 69 - 28 Gold 27 Silver and 19 Bronze.

These Games will be no exception and this weekend, some of the races that Kenya expects to harvest medals in shall know its representatives. They are;

  • 800m men
  • 1500m men and women
  • 3000m steeplechase (men)
  • 5000m men and women
The qualifiers in these races will join others who have already qualified by virtue of attaining the times and being named by Athletics Kenya and include 4 x 400m men's team, javelin (men), marathon teams (both men and women) and the 10000m men and women.This is to hoping only the best emerge and no controversial decisions crop up from the complaints of wild card selections et al. 

We do wish the all athletes, the best in their respective races and let's pull one better than we did in Beijing 2008. The potent you have from last year's World Athletics Championships means you're true world-beaters. Our heritage with our former colonial masters ought to be good enough inspiration. 

Do it!

Saturday marked the culmination of one of the hotly contested Olympic tickets in recent history. No major upsets were realised and most of the favourites registered good times and easily booked tickets. Preview of the some of those who made the final list of Olympic finalists is as follows;

800m - David Rudisha, Timothy Kitum, Job Kinyor
1500m - Asbel Kiprop, Nixon Chepseba, Silas Kiplagat
5000m - Isaiah Kiplangat, Edwin Soi, Thomas Longosiwa
10000m - Wilson Kiprop, Moses Masai, Bitan Karoki
Marathon - Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai
400m hurdles - Vincent Koskei
3000m steeplechase - Brimin Kipruto, Abel Mutai, Ezekiel Kemboi
4 X 400m - David Rudisha, Mark Mutai, Vincent Mumo, Vincent Koskei, Anderson Mureta

800m - Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei, Winnie Chebet
1500m - Hellen Obiri, Eunice Sum, Faith Chepngetich
5000m - Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego, Viola Kibiwott
10000m - Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego, Linet Chepkirui
Marathon - Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo
3000m steeplechase - Lydia Rotich, Mercy Njoroge, Milcah Chemos

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Road to Olympics - 1996 Atlanta - Kenya Dips again

Atlanta '96
The 1990s represented a major shift not just in geo-politics and economics but also the world of sport. For what was to be centennial Games ( initially thought to be automatically held in Athens - the spiritual home of Modern Olympics), commercial interests overrode the IOC chiefs seeing USA host the Games the second time in less than 15 years.
Atlanta '96 

The jury's still out there whether they were any more (commercially) successful than the '84 Los Angeles Games.For Kenya though, it was another dismal performance from its traditional hunting grounds in athletics. There was also reduced representation in other sporting disciplines something that seems to be symptotic to this day. Here's a brief review of the Games;

Interesting Tid-bits:
  • Olympic Flame - The lighting of the Olympic flame was kept secret for the longest time until the day when former Olympian Muhammad Ali ran into the stadium making a triumphant entry - for a moment there helping the world remember him one more time. His suffering from Parkinson's disease has paled his otherwise outspoken boxing career. He was also re-awarded his gold medal from the Tokyo Games ( after he threw away the original one in protest against Army recruitment for the Vietnam War).
  • Sprint Doubles - Donovan Bailey (Canada) won men's 100m & 4x100m; Michael Johnson 200m & 400m;  Marie-Jose Perec women's 200m & 400m making them uniquely double medallists.
  • Final Bow - Carl Lewis won his 4th long jump medal in an Olympics bringing the curtain down on one of the biggest Olympic legends. This was sweet revenge for him after missing the world record for the whole of his long-jumping days.
Kenya's Statistics:

  • 5 Disciplines were represented ; Athletics, Archery, Boxing, Shooting and Weightlifting
  • 52 participants took part ; 42 men and 10 women in these events;
  • 1 Gold - 3,000m steeplechase - easily Kenya's traditional event - Joseph Keter
  • 4 Silver - Paul Bitok (5000m), Paul Tergat (10,000m), Moses Kiptanui (3000m s'chase), Pauline Konga (5,000m women)
  • 3 Bronze - Fred Onyancha ( 800m), Stephen Kipkorir ( 1500m), Erick Wainaina ( marathon)

This was another poor performance from the Kenyan team overall, what the outlook for the coming century? Only time would tell.


Friday, 8 June 2012

Safari Rally 2012 - Day 1 Action - Spectator Stage

Mediocrity thriving in Kenyan Sport

The beautiful world of sport has in the last couple of weeks come under simmering moments for mainly the wrong reasons. While some may say that it is not good focussing on bad news, it is precisely the reason that there needs to be a voice of dissent to prick our collective common conscience.
At times when you take a cursory look at Kenyan sport, you might quit while at it because of the many failings and handicaps that keep creeping in. But on a wider level it is a fair ride for most sports. But why should we settle for fair or average? Take a look at some of these cases to stage our argument;

  • Athletics - the still unclear circumstances of Olympic pre-qualifications for the 5000m & 10,000m ( both men and women) being held in Prefontaine, the other dubious debacle by a German journo about Kenyan legendary athletes doping;
  • Boxing - the lack of organisation and structure that will see Kenya take ONLY ONE boxer to the Olympic Games. This sole boxer is said to be self-funding for training preparations for the Games while Kenya boxing officials bicker & go for each others' necks in the boardroom;
  • Cricket - the game is at its lowest ebb in years and to further precipitate the situation, the CEO resigned sometime last year hot on the heels of the national team coach quitting;
  • Football- the (mis)management of the national team players and selection for national duty, the ever-changing, ever-mysterious shirt 'sponsorship' which is never tackled by FKF officials, the loss of corporate sponsorship for the youth development tournaments (Sakata Ball);
  • Rugby - dismal performance by national 7s team as well as mixed basket of fortunes for the 15s team. The uncouth handling of the national team's technical bench, and now unresolved issue of the national coach;
  • Motorsport - what ought to be Kenya's première motor-sports event slowly becoming just another folklore, thanks to poor visibility and lack of sustained, committed PR from its officials. If the Safari Rally is really hoping to make it back to the WRC, in no uncertain terms, can you be sure we've a long way to go to achieve this. 
Rotting Apples
There are many scenarios that we would look at but let's tackle these one that come to mind right now.  A common denominator is seen in all these sporting events. Mediocre sports management and leadership! Incompetent sports officials who are just out to line their pockets without any tangible benefit accruing to the sports they manage. Others are just stooges for their political and simply proxies for unknown and hidden agendas from their masters. Time and time again, we have called out for running out of town of such sports officials but alas its is just a sweet song sung.
From poor preparations for both club and national teams, unpaid player allowances and disappearance of funds once monies are committed by sponsors, to un-contracted technical team personnel, and poor revenue streams to engage sponsors for current and future projects. Let's not talk about poor infrastructure or non-existence of some of it too! 
Another common aspect is the lack of substantive reporting and coverage to reprimand these sports officials and call out the rotten elements. Many a sports editorials in our local media houses do not have the wherewithal to proper question the wrong acts that our sports officials engage in. Oh NO, we're NOT throwing blanket condemnations over all media houses and personalities some of who must be singled out for a job well done. 

Mass v/s Mediocre
But if you take a critical look at some of the elements we have in the sports editorial departments, they are either on the take from some of the sports officials, acting as the public relations people on print or other Press. Or they are 'pens and mikes for hire' constantly waiting for the next big story from a sport, but quickly killing it or completely blacking out questionable elements in sports management. Rumour has it that envelopes and mobile money payments are the order of the day in some of the Press briefings that happen in certain sports organisations. Conflict of interest is another issue that needs to be considered here.
In these times of social media and other online platforms, information dissemination is easily democratised and major media outlets are feeling the heat of these robust ways of breaking news,comprehensive and unbiased coverage. But these outlets are THREATS to traditional journalism some of who have refused to recognise its potent. Ask many sports organisations about accreditation of online or social media practitioners and they give it a wide berth.
The mass or mainstream media is supposed to be the people's watchdog or voice of the people. Take the slogans bandied around by for instance the newspapers ' Kenya's Boldest Newspaper' , 'Fresh, independent and different', and other fanciful slogans. How many dare live up to their words? How many in their sports editorial call things are they are? 
Thus mediocre sports officials X mediocre sport coverageMediocrity2

Call out the bad elements in sport people! Tell it as it is ! This is the 21st century!

If Kenyan sports scene is to change and move to another level, surely we must get rid of such acts and go beyond the average. We should start by self-cleansing our sports organisations and our 'mouth-pieces' too. Before that, we should forget world-class performances becoming common occurrences and forget commercialising sports and maybe kiss our sporting heritage goodbye too! 

In Other News:
Mr. Minister, you recently talked about tabling an Anti-Doping Bill to counter the claims made about Kenya's athletes doping. Methinks the Sports Bill is more urgent than that! History shall judge your legacy very harshly for missing this opportunity to change the face of sport in Kenya...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Racism & Sport - It don't matter if you're Black or White!

A good friend of mine sometime back made the observation that many African dialects have no word for racism. Yet in this time and age, we still talk about race and the colour of our skins and its becoming the 'smell' that just won't get off many a sporting disciplines across the world.
Just so that we get our footing on what we are talking about in the 2011/12 EPL season, two incidences occurred where players were alleged racially slurred by their fellow players on the pitch. One of the cases ended up with Suarez- a Uruguayan player was banned for 8 games for the club and though he did manage to get support from some of his colleagues, the club management ended up with egg on the face for mishandling such a sensitive subject. The player he abused is Frenchman Patrick Evra.
In the other case features a more complicated scenario and the players involved are from the same country. England's John Terry is said to have made a racial remark to Anton Ferdinand during an EPL clash between their two clubs. In subsequent games, EPL officials even had to cancel the ceremonial handshakes before the start of the matches to avoid players' bad blood before play.

The other reason this case is more interesting is the little matter of Rio Ferdinand's non-selection to the English squad that is preparing for Euro 2012 that starts in the twin Eastern Europe countries of Poland and Ukraine. Rio is the elder brother to Anton Ferdinand and word has it that the brothers have not been particularly amused by the English national team management of the whole affair.

Euro 2012
Talking of Euro 2012, reports have been coming from the media (coincidentally British-owned BBC through its Panorama programme aired an episode on racism and anti-Semitic violence) on football fans in the Poland and Ukraine - co-hosts of 2012. Though both countries' football officials have been quick to make denials and add that they have put measures in place to avoid such incidences.
What was of concern though was UEFA's top official's nonchalant comments about racism and what to do about it. Mr. Michel Platini an honourable player back in his time has sought to play down the claims too and says he would hope officials do something about it if it does occur. It is sad that UEFA has not suggested any other stringent measures to deal with racial slurs.

In other sports, Tiger Woods last year had a bitter fall-out with his caddie who ended up going for the race-card which was a little uncalled for...more like punching a person when they're already down...Remember the final disgrace that greeted Zinedine Zidane's departure from football, after alleged abuse from one Marco Materrazzi ? There are other dishonourable mentions that we would quote but can't for the disgrace they bring to sport.


  • First if sports associations are to be more stringent and stamp hard on believed miscreants, this would serve as a deterrent to the any intended acts. Imposition of fines, suspension of players/coaches and clubs alike are some of the suggestions. 
  • Second, quick resolution of the said case would also make it  less controversial. Look at a case like John Terry's, dragging on for over 3 months is way beyond a good threshold of punishing or mitigating against the aggrieved parties.
  • Third, if fans are found to be liable to such abuses on and off the pitch, bans from the venues, media bans for the clubs and such like measures will ensure that they think twice before mimicking monkeys and throwing banana peels on the pitch. Video evidence should be considered when 
  • Fourth, fans and players alike need to find other ways of taunting each other. Racial slurs and such like antics don't belong to this age. 
  • Fifth, players of African origin have been and will continue playing in the different sporting disciplines. What's   more, non-traditional sports such as swimming, gymnastics and others will gradually see more entrants and thus appeal to a wider world audience than is already happening. We know what happened to golf when Tiger Woods became number one and also Lewis Hamilton breaking the 'race' barrier in Formula One motorsport.

Racism kept in check

Sports are the one universal currency that unites us in many ways. Sporting events will always be graced by winners and losers and most often than not, it will not be because of the racial inclinations. The success of some of the biggest leagues in the world is largely due to the fact that they have integrated every person. Look at the NBA, American Baseball, tennis among others. Need we say anything more? ..and to paraphrase what some wise person said it sometime ago, why can't we all get along?

Friday, 1 June 2012

Safari Rally - 60th Edition...still going Strong!

This year the Rally once known as the 'toughest rally across the world' shall be one year short of marking its Diamond anniversary. This Rally which was inaugurated in 1953 to mark the coronation of then Princess Elizabeth to current Queen Elizabeth - the ruling British monarch, who had chosen Kenya as her holiday destination.
Juha Kankunnen 1993 Safari Rally - image courtesy of

The Rally initially was called the EA Coronation Safari, then changing to East African Safari Rally upto 1974 when it settled on the more famous Safari Rally moniker. It was part of the World Rally Championships circuit up until 2003 when the world's governing body in rallying dropped it. Safety practices, huge expenses for rally teams and lack of corporate sponsorships among others were given as the reasons.
However the Rally has managed to keep its own in the last 10 years and has been a major rally as part of the African Rally Championships - ARC. It has also gradually changed into shorter and more open sections than the traditional rally which was marked by longer and sometimes overnight legs.

Safari Rally Changes
The Safari Rally was also forced to shift its traditional timing from the Easter weekend which usually fell between the months of March and April to the month of June.
It was also forced to split into the East Africa Safari Rally Classic which features older cars manufactured in the 1960s,70s to 80s when the Rally was at its best. The rally was last held last November criss-crossing Kenya and Tanzania.
The organisers have also introduced the popular 'Spectator Stages' which are real crowd pullers at the start or end of the major stages. This year's Rally will also be hoped to entice the WRC gurus back to this side of the Sahara as Africa yearns for a substantive Rally in that circuit.

Check out this link for some interesting stats on the Safari Rally pre-2003.

To all you Rallying enthusiasts mark your calendars for the 8th-10th June 2012 for this dazzle of a Rally!