Why National Olympic Committee of Kenya team were bound to retain seats

By Omulo Okoth

Kenya: Intrigues, back-stabbing, horse trading and a whiff of blackmail are some of the highlights of the high stakes National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) polls, concluded Wednesday.

The dramatic last minute withdrawals only confirmed the intense interest inherent in the Olympic body’s high profile nature.

It proved that beating the incumbents under the current rules is not possible.

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The close-knit nature adds to the drama. NOC-K has 13 officials, who all vote. Although they occasionally differ, elections often unite them like a small family.

Then they go for votes in the 18 federations affiliated to the body. Most NOC-K officials still hold positions in those federations, and they influence their voting bias.

Outgoing first vice chairman Peter Nderitu and committee member John Roberts retired due to age.

David Okeyo, hitherto second vice chairman and also Athletics Kenya (AK) Vice President, reportedly bowed to pressure to let his President Isaiah Kiplagat be AK’s sole flag bearer in NOC-K.

He got the least votes among the losers (four). And with it AK lost another chance.

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Okeyo insists it was his personal decision, but it is open secret that he is angling for the AK presidency after Kiplagat bows out next year. Contesting again in NOC-K, with a high possibility of retaining his position, was going to jeopardise Kiplagat’s ambition for the first vice chairmanship.

Gordon Oluoch, the Commissioner for Sports, who was going for the first vice chair’s position, also pulled out shortly before flying out to Berlin for a Unesco conference on Tuesday evening.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Sam Nyamweya also pulled out, citing alleged irregularities, which NOC-K denied. The timing of Okeyo’s pulling out of the race nearly handed the football boss the seat unopposed.

But some NOC-K mandarins, uncomfortable with Nyamweya’s abrasive style, brought Pius Ochieng’ of Weight Lifting Association on board.

Nyamweya and Kiplagat have been plotting to kick out all NOC-K officials, something which did not go down well with the incumbents.

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A secret pact was made to back the swimming boss Ben Ekumbo to lock out Kiplagat and front Ochieng’ against Nyamweya. That plot put paid to any external encroachment.

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