Monday, 4 August 2014

Commonwealth Games - Glasgow : Kenya's Gold, Bleed and Ugly

2014 and it is exactly 60 years since a Kenyan sports personality made it to any international sporting event! And this event was the Commonwealth Games in 1954 ( had previously been known as British Empire Games).
Glasgow 2014 - image courtesy of
With such rich heritage and a storied past, the 2014 edition ought to have been a done deal for Kenyan sport but alas! It is another skewed performance from a contingent of 169 athletes and officials. A misnomer of the Commonwealth Games is that fierce competitors, Ethiopia and other North African countries do not participate.
But even without these countries, Glasgow exposed the scope of Kenya's famed athletes. Out of the 13 disciplines, only 3 managed to get to the podium.

  1. Julius Yego – Javelin Gold standard – first ever field event Gold medal in major c’ships. Even without proper training facilities and technical support he keeps getting better;
Julius Yego - Golden Throw -
2. Eunice Sum – 800m – she's the reigning world champ and she turned up for the another sterling performance;3. Caleb Ndiku – 5000m – coming of age, he was named 2010 SOYA most promising athlete and showed why. Exit Ezekiel Kemboi too we have another performer...
David Rudisha – 800m Silver - World/Olympic champ & WR holder, we expected nothing short of Gold, even with a poor season so far;
Jason Dunford – Swimming - he finally admitted frustrations/lack of Kenya's Swimming Federation support ( and no officials are sacked..???);
Kenya 7s team – after finishing 2nd in the table standings in the preliminaries, they met their match in New Zealand who ended our first rugby Commonwealth medal chances
Special Mentions:
  1. Conrad Nkanata – US-based sprinter – finished 3rd in his 200m heat, with proper training he can be a future sprinter;
  2. Benson Gicharu – Boxer – even with time running out for his amateur boxing career, he is still punching it out at major sports events

Kenya Sports (Mis)management:
The charade of Kenyan officials in managing the team continued. First it was delayed allowances due to athletes. Second was the kit issue with missing or delayed kit to Team Kenya.  Third was late accreditation which meant missed attendance by cyclist, David Kinjah among others. Fourth and it’s truly out of personal frustration was lack of technical/financial support as well as favouritism in team selection. These last were raised not just by non-traditional disciplines but also swimmers such as Jason Dunford who may have had his swansong representing the country in any sport.

Golden Girls - 3000m s'chase Kenyan trio
We have said this before and shall repeat it for the umpteenth time. Kenya’s sport management needs to change RADICALLY! Why have more than 10 disciplines and only 2-3 have any chance of winning medals? Can more investment be made on a few of these or if all disciplines are represented, get proper exposure to have winning chance(s).
  •    Kitting – what business goes on with kit which has been acquired for national duty? Why should some official conveniently forget to order this in time? Other times they issue it to non-participants or stock it in local shops. Sponsors should also review such misdemeanor and cancel contracts for misallocated kits.
  •    Allowances – we saw the embarrassment of African teams in World Cup. It did not even take a month before our own officials replicated that same template. Why should individual be charged with responsibility of managing team finances? In future all participants should supply account details and monies sent direct to them like regular pay.
  •    Size of squad – how many officials are really needed to attend international events even when their disciplines have no chance of winning a bronze medal? Participation should be on how successful a sport is at regional, continental or international duty.
  •    Technical/Financial details – for most disciplines Kenya has lost a semblance of international standards. From boxing, swimming to even some athletics events, the edge of advances in technical knowledge is lacking. Spotlight is on sports federations’ internal wrangles and lack of international best practice to compete at such levels.
As usual we shall be treated to excuses and made to forget what has become perennial under-achieving by our national team(s). As a nation,we need to demand accountability from those in charge of our sports bodies. The Government must also stop playing deaf and be more forceful in getting officials to straighten their act. 
It is no wonder that most athletes prefer running in Grand Prix events, others opting to quit even before their prime as a frustrated lot. See what is happening to the football fraternity?