Team Kenya sent a strong contingent to the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, comprising 120 athletes in 15 disciplines. Yet, even before the end of the Club Games, it is apparent that only in the track events will Kenya win medals. Only a rare bronze medal by female boxer Christine Ongare in flyweight has been won outside the track.
In team sports, Kenya sent two rugby teams - men and women. The other disciplines are cycling, weightlifting, swimming, badminton, table tennis, para-athletes, shooting, squash and lawn bowls. Kenya also fielded participants in powerlifting, wrestling and triathlon but the story was the same – no medals as they all fell by the wayside. There is no doubt whatsoever that, evidently, Kenya’s position on the high table of dominant performers during international competitions is seriously under threat, especially when one considers the fact that disciplines that are perennially “Kenyan” are now being infiltrated like the 800m and 10,000m, among others.
And the reason-in-chief for this is overly depending on track events to win medals, which glory has been borne out of natural talent and individual commitment by the runners. The time for such “guess work” is long gone. Other nations and countries are investing in the science of talent development, supported by proper infrastructure and professionalism in technical skills. Kenya has refused to invest in the abundant raw talent not only to maintain dominance in our traditional forte, but also scoop medals in other disciplines.
And while the Government needs to take up its rightful duty of funding sports programmes, it is high time managers of the various sports disciplines that gobble up taxpayers’ money became proactive and embrace new trends in sports development. They must stop resorting to short-cuts and develop talent enhancing programmes, otherwise the continued funding of their participation is unjustifiable if all they do is add to the numbers at the global games. Still, Team Kenya, to the Commonwealth Games this year deserves a part on their back. They did the country proud!