Maasai runners urged to take athletics seriously

By Ben Ahenda

Athletes take part in the senior 8km women’s race during the Kajiado County Cross-country championships at the weekend.

Several philanthropists are out to lure the Maasai community to embrace athletics as a profession.

This is after the emergence of elite Maasai champions in the World 800m such as David Rudisha and Billy Konchella among others.

Several well-wishers have come out to support the few runners from the region including Simon ‘Pajero’ Ntasikoi, who spent thousands of shillings in cash prizes for the winners of the South Rift Cross-country championships in Kajiado over the weekend.

“We are ready to offer runners all the necessary support  to help them embrace athletics, which is a great profession  that could help them improve their living standards,” Ntasikoi told FeverPitch.

South Rift Athletics Kenya second vice chairman Joseph Moreno Kasaine welcomed the move and appealed to runners from the region to   participate in athletics.

“We are ready to assist you produce more Rudishas and Konchellas and rival other parts of the country that are endowed with athletic talent,” said Kasaine.

However, Kajiado County still lacks modern sporting infrastructure that could go towards nurturing talented players.

Athletes who took part in the South Rift Cross-country championships were forced to run on rough and bumpy terrain, which affected some runners’ performance.

“This was a bad course, full of potholes, which is not good for us. Such courses lead to uncalled for injuries,” said Roseline Chepng’etich who won the 6km junior women’s race in 19:10.00.

Chepng’etich, whose last international race was the 2,000m steeplechase in Poland last year, where she finished ninth, said she hoped the Kajiado county government would construct modern athletics infrastructures.

“This bumpy terrain could lead to experienced runners skipping future championships,” she told FeverPitch in a post-race interview at the finishing point on Saturday.

However, Kajiado County Minister for Education, Youth, Culture and Social Services, Ali Letura, confirmed having plans to build a modern stadium on 40 acres that have already been acquired in Kajiado town.

To set the ball rolling, the county has set aside Sh50 million to build a pavilion and perimeter wall, and fence the stadium besides setting up an athletics camp in Ngong.

“All these plans must be established within two years,” Letura stated.

Kasaine said with a modern stadium and an athletics camp, Kajiado County will compete against other established athletics counties in the North Rift region, which is popularly referred to as the home of athletics. —bahenda@standardmedia.co.ke

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