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.


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