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How sports managers ‘crippled’ team Kenya at the Rio Olympics

COMMENTARY
By Yvonne Okwara | August 22nd 2016

In the end, it should be all joy, after all the great Eliud Kipchoge gave a glorious finish to Kenya’s medal hunt by winning the men’s marathon. And yes, the gallant athletes who have pushed Kenya to 15th place in the medals standing must be commended and indeed celebrated. But these are Kenyans who have succeeded in spite of, rather than because of their country. The system simply failed them.

Just how many more gold medals would Kenya have won, if those charged with managing the country’s sports simply did their job?

The preparations ahead of the games were shambolic at best, not to mention the shenanigans about running gear and other basics. And now the Sports Cabinet Secretary himself claims he is a victim of what he calls the ‘Olympics cartel.’ If a whole cabinet secretary was unaware, as he claims, of the multiple crises that plagued the athletes before heading to Rio, then who is running that ministry?

What’s more, the National Olympics Committee is headed by Kipchoge Keino, the man feted at the very same games to which he sent an ill prepared team.

We have not even mentioned the doping scandals at the start of the games or the ridiculously chaotic accreditation of Kenyan athletes to the Rio games.

In the USA, there is no sports ministry; yet they top the medal standings at almost every Olympic Games. As a matter of fact they scooped no fewer than 118 medals in the just-concluded Rio Olympics; compared to Kenya’s 13.

In Kenya, we have a Sports Ministry, a Sports Council and a National Olympic Committee - headed by a Kenyan hero who should know better,- each seemingly with a mind of its own.  

In the end it may well be that even great athletes like Ruth Jebet who choose to run for other countries, are not just driven by money. Who would blame anyone for running away from such disorganization?

Kenya is a great sporting nation, and the least any official can do is to make things easier. Making it to the Olympics is already challenging enough; no one has a right to make it any harder for these gallant sons and daughters of the soil.

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