Tuesday, 12 March 2013

SportsKenya's Qs & As - Jason Dunford - Premier Kenyan Swimmer

This is our first Qs & As session for the year 2013. We have been working on getting as many sports people both senior and retired to give us a sneak peek into their lives. We were lucky to get Jason Dunford - SOYA Winner, multiple record breaker and the first Kenyan to ever break an Olympic record in swimming in 2008 to talk to us and here are a few of his words;
Jason Dunford
Thanks Jason for agreeing to this Q & A session.
1. 2012 was a good and busy year for Jason Dunford and indeed for Kenya Swimming team. 
a) Give us your main highlights;
Carrying the Kenya flag in the Olympics Opening Ceremony was the major highlight of the year for me. It was a huge honour to be selected for such a role. Unfortunately it may have contributed to me not performing at my best a few days later (I could still feel the exhaustion in my legs) but it was an impossible request to turn down.

 b) Low moments 
Under-performing in my event at the Olympics and failing to make the final having gone into the Games ranked 4th in the worlds.

2. You were part of Team Kenya in the London Olympic Games. How was your experience there and what would you say didn't work for you and swimming team?
The swimming team was comprised of my brother David and me. Being the only two swimmers representing the country in the Olympics was a great honor and feat for us, especially considering it was our second one. However because it was our second Olympics we came into the Games with huge goals and a lot of expectation was unknowingly heaped on us from back home. In the end the pressure affected our performance and neither of us performed at our best. Nevertheless, we know we did all we could in the build up and we are privileged that we got to travel that journey together.

3. 2013 looks like a dour year for most Kenyan sports disciplines, what's your competitive swimming calendar like?
This year I am taking a break from international competition and will forego the World Championships. I am working in California for an electronics recycling company called GreenCitizen (www.greencitizen.com) to help refresh my mind and give me an experience of working life beyond college. However I still train hard everyday and hope to be present at next year's Commonwealth Games.

4. We have you and your brother being integral part of the swimming team for Kenya. Do you see any worth heirs to yourselves?
There are some promising youngsters starting to emerge such as Tory Pragassa, Micah Fernandez and Silvia Brunlenher. They are still young but have the talent to break into the elite ranks of world swimming if they continue to work hard.

5. Talking business side of things now, though you have been one of Kenya's oustanding sports personalities, there are few companies that have come forth to seek your name to endorse their brands or products. 
a) What are your thoughts on this?
I think it has been a very positive step taken by some of our big Kenyan companies. If Kenyans want our sportsmen and women to succeed, business partnerships need to play a central role as they do in other countries. We can't just rely on government support. I was lucky to be sponsored by Davis and Shirtliff and Dormans in the year leading up to the Olympics. Their support was integral to my preparation and I was thrilled to be able to promote these two great Kenyan companies.

 b) What of online presence and visibility?
I try to be visible online through my website, Facebook fan page and twitter (@KenyaSwimmer). However I do need to make a point of more frequent updates for my fans. 

c) Advice to other athletes and sports people?
I thinking the climate is changing and companies are beginning to see the value of associating with our top performers. By working hard, being humble, patriotic and articulate, endorsements should come along.
Ready, steady & dip !

6. Not pre-empting your exit from the sporting scene, 
a) when do you think you'll stop taking a dip from the pool competitively?
After the 2016 Olympics. I am getting married next year and by then I will be at an age when I want to start a family.

b) what do you intend to do once you retire from the sport?
Work in the environmentalism. My current job at GreenCitizen is my first taste of working in a company with a mission aimed at saving the environment. We only have one earth and need to do better in our stewardship of its land water and resources.

c) future of the sport in Kenya?
I want to be involved in Kenya swimming in some capacity as an administrator, coach of advisor. I will jump that hurdle when I finish my career.

7. Give us 5 things; 
a) to change/improve Kenyan sport
More accountability in the administration of sport, less divisive politics and appointments to key positions based on merit and for those who prioritize the well-being of the athlete(s).

 b) change swimming fortunes in Kenya
A year round, indoor, well-maintained central training center.

 c) we did not know about Jason Dunford
 I think most Kenyans know everything about me these days! ; ) >
Thank you