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State must walk the talk on condition of our stadiums

EDITORIAL
By Editorial | May 30th 2021
Aerial view of The iconic Kamariny stadium, which is about two kilometres from Iten town, in Elgeyo Marakwet County. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

It’s another moment for Kenyans to steal headlines on the global sports scene – the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, on July 23 to August 8.  

Sports enthusiasts including senior government officials are about to script congratulatory messages to our athletes when they win medals. Social media will be awash with hearty messages.

It’s no news since that has always been the norm. We appreciate and love our sportsmen and women. Ironically, no one cares to know or even inquire on how these athletes train for these competitions.

Currently, there is no usable stadium in North Rift and South Rift, the high altitude areas where world beating stars conduct pre-Olympic camps.

Kamariny Stadium in Elgeyo Marakwet has stalled since 2016, Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret has had renovations that seem to never end.

A similar script reads at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Kapsabet, Kapsabet Showground and Kericho Green Stadium.

The government has pumped billions into stadia development, one of Jubilee administration’s pet projects. Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu, which has sent tongues wagging on its expenditure, is just a tip of the iceberg.

Most of our football matches are held on playing grounds – not stadium – and which are prone to injuries due to substandard surfaces. The authorities must now offer lasting solutions.

Even as they prepare for Tokyo Olympic Games, our athletes take risks to prepare. There have been unfortunate cases of athletes being hit by motorists, while training on the road, which raises concerns on their safety.

Most athletes preferred to train inside Kaptagat Forest, which is a serene environment along the forest trails. It then turned from bad to worse after a female athlete was gang-raped by illegal loggers.

Only last year, when Covid-19 pandemic disrupted sports activities across the globe, two top Kenyan athletes were hit by motorists in separate training sessions.

Geoffrey Kamworor, immediate former world 21km record holder, suffered a fractured tibia after being hit from behind by a motorcycle during a training run in Kaptagat.

The 2019 New York Marathon winner suffered leg and head injuries in the accident. Sammary Cherotich, a former World Youth 1500m champion, was hit by car while in the morning run along Iten-Kaptarakwa road. And the numbers continue to rise.

It’s time the government walks the talk on stadia development.

 

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