By Jonathan Komen

Local teachers outsmarted world-beating track stars to clinch key positions at Athletics Kenya County polls.

The teachers, who handle youth and junior athletes in primary and secondary schools, capitalised on the closely-knit networks at grassroots level to win the elections.

In Baringo County, former Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Associations Chairman Barnabas Kitilit beat Barcelona Olympics 3,000m steeplechase champion Mathew Birir for the chair’s seat. Interestingly, Birir is Kitilit’s former student.

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But Birir said he absconded the elections after realising teachers and some AK national officials had conspired right from recruitment of voters to lock former athletes out.

“These teachers hatched the plot to ensure no former athlete wins in any position. They conspired in the membership recruitment to ensure they registered people who will vote for them. It was simply a war between teachers and the former athletes,” Birir told FeverPitch by telephone on Thursday.

In some quarters, the former athletes are accused of doing little to promote the sport in their localities.

“The former athletes have a big reputation outside but nothing to show at their rural homes. Look at Baringo County, there is no training camp yet we have many Olympic and world champions. The teachers have played key roles,” said a former AK official, who declined to be named.

But Birir refuted the claims: “We have not been involved in athletics affairs for a long time. How do they expect us to take their responsibilities? They have their own reasons.”

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World 3,000m indoor and outdoor record holder Daniel Komen failed to capture Elgeiyo Marakwet Athletics Kenya County chairmanship.

Komen, who was the out-going Keiyo Athletics Kenya District chairman lost the County seat to his former 1st Chairman Pius Kiplagat during the hotly contest elections held at Iten County Hall.

Trounced Ronoh

Komen, who is also the only man alive to run two miles under eight minutes, garnered 12 votes against Kiplagat’s 18 in the polls.

Steeplechase coach Boniface Tiren, a teacher at Kamoi Primary School in Marakwet, won the County Secretary’s seat after trouncing John Rono, who was the acting Keiyo district secretary 19-12.

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Kiptabus Primary School teacher Dominic Chepkok narrowly won the assistant secretary’s post.

In Uasin Gishu County, where majority of Kenya athletes come from, Benjamin Limo,(pictured) the 2005 World championship 5,000m winner sailed through unopposed as the County chairman.

In South Nyanza, Robert Ouko, the 1972 Olympics Games 4x400m gold medalist, was another casualty after he lost PRO slot to Henry Muturi in Nyamira.

The AK grass root elections, which had been called off for a record four times, were held on Tuesday in all the counties in the country and will be followed by the regional and national polls on May 7 and 14.

Meanwhile, most top officials elected in Athletics Kenya South Rift county elections have expressed confidence of winning seats in next week’s  regional polls.

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Laikipia County chairman John Wachira is expected to defend his seat at the South Rift regional elections in Nakuru.

 Nakuru County chairman Livingstone Kimutai Ng’etich said: “I’ll go for one of the top seats but off course not the chairman’s posts,” he said after being elected at the Rift Valley Provincial Plenary Hall in Nakuru on Tuesday.

Kajiado County chairman Joseph Moreno Kasaine said he is interested in the first vice chairman’s post.

He is likely to face off with Nakuru chairman Ng’etich who is eyeing either the first vice-chairman or secretary-general’s post.

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Athletics Kenya elections Barcelona Olympics Baringo County