KDF firing blanks

Peter Muindi of Embakasi leads in men's 10,000m finals during KDF championships at Nyayo Stadium on May 9. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

They boast many firsts in Kenya’s athletics history. From track, cross country to marathon; they dominated over the years.

One of the foremost stars Wilson Kiprugut Chumo delivered Kenya’s first ever Olympic medal when he won bronze in 800m in Tokyo, Japan, in 1964. The late Some Muge emerged as Kenya’s first cross country medallist when he won bronze at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 1983.

One of the leading lights of that crop of athletes is Paul Tergat, now on the verge of becoming president of the National Olympic Committee.

Yes, it is the Kenya Defence Forces. In the intervening years, however, non-military athletes have overrun the barracks and garrisons to leave the KDF playing second fiddle to Kenya Police and Kenya Prisons, let alone organised camps scattered around the country.

Kenya Defence Forces athletics shows have been on a steady decline in the past four years.

The deteriorating performance comes even as Tergat, the former world marathon record holder, sits as the youngest member of the executive committee at the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Add to the fact Rtd Lt.Gen Jackson Kiprono Tuwei, the former Kenya Army Commander, is the President Athletics Kenya and KDF’s decline leaves many baffled.

Celebrated coach Julius Kirwa, the Athletics Kenya head coach to the triumphant Rio Olympics and the upcoming IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, admits they are no longer a force to reckon with, but attributed it to international military duties.

“When we headed to Somalia for peace mission, most of our athletes were called upon for duty. We directed all our energies there. Remember our core mandate is to defend the nation and that’s primary for us. So, there is no cause for alarm. We have a lot of duties besides athletics,” said Kirwa., who has led national teams to major events since 2002.

William Tanui, the 1992 Olympic 800m champion, concurs with Kirwa. “When you are recruited into KDF, your core mandate is to defend the nation from external attacks. Sports and other issues are secondary. For this reason, KDF always send out soldiers for peace missions in various countries including those in sports. So, it’s difficult for an athlete to pick up top form after one year out of training.

“Again, it’s like they don’t recruit the right people for the right events, despite boasting the highest number of IAAF Diploma coaches in KDF,” said Tanui, formerly of Moi Airbase Eastleigh, Nairobi.

KDF has produced all Kenya’s male World Cross Country champions, save for Japhet Korir and Geoffrey Kamworor.

The others are the pair of five-time winners John Ngugi and Paul Tergat, two-time winner William Sigei; Joseph Ebuya and the late Some Muge.

Thomas Nyariki and John Kibowen, the four-kilometre winner at the 1998 world cross-country, are the other stars from KDF.

Gladys Cherono, winner of 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and Vincent Chepkok (World cross-country bronze medalist), Peter Mateelong, the younger brother of Commonwealth Games champion Richard Mateelong, have tried out to make the cut, but in vain.

KDF have since met their waterloo at national trials, missing out on slots to the World Cross Country championships since 2013.

Next Story
LATEST STORIES
Continental tournament also moved to June from February

Kenya started the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on the wrong footing after losing 2-1 to Sierra Leone, but the country now has a realistic chance of playing in the competition following an increase in the number of qualifying teams to 24.

Stern test for All Stars in Spain: LaLiga Tour Select team wind up tour against Seville Atletico

Kenyan Premier League select team face Sevilla reserve team today.

Rugby: Coach Habimana says they have worked on their weaknesses ahead of the clash

Kenya 15’s rugby team will be facing Zimbabwe in game three of the 2017 Africa Gold Cup.

Tour of LaLiga: SportPesa invite Malaga coaches to train All Stars

Malaga CF youth development coach Diego Vera Ideota has described the Kenya Premier League All Star players as “coachable” after a training session at La Cala Golf Resort.

Spot the President: Athletes meet Uhuru

I am also a winner. President Uhuru Kenyatta

More Stories
Spot the President: Athletes meet Uhuru

I am also a winner. President Uhuru Kenyatta

US-based Saruni dropped from 800m team for World Championships

Two-time Olympic and world 800m champion David Rudisha and 2016 IAAF Diamond League winner Ferguson Rotich have been picked in the 800m squad to the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships in London on August 4-12.

Kipchoge returns to the road at Berlin Marathon

Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge will make return to the road race circuit at the 2017 Berlin Marathon in September having come agonisingly close to breaking the two-hour barrier at Monza in May.

AK agonises over 800m duo Rotich and Rudisha

Athletics Kenya was last evening expected to whittle down the men’s 800m men squad for London Worlds from five to four.

Athletics: Kenya shrugs aside taunts of terror threats to stage spectacular event

Success of IAAF World U-18 games raises Kenya’s profile

Nairobi watches as world's finest outdo one another in Under18 Championships

In Mary Moraa, Kenyans catch a glimpse of imminent glory

Athletics: Ethiopian upstages Kenyans as Zakayo surrenders 3,000m title

Edward Zakayo could do little to stop Ethiopian’s Selemon Barega from sprinting to victory in the 3,000m final on the closing day of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships yesterday.

All's well that ends well: Hats off as hosts conclude World U-18 Championships in style

It’s a winning finish for Kenyans as they wind up fourth with four gold medals.

Athletics: Bett and Meyan have last laugh

Kenya stamped its authority in boys’ 2,000m steeplechase finals, an event it has dominated in most major championships, consolidating its place as the world’s hard-to-beat middle and long-distance running powerhouse.

Down but not out: Kenyans acquire experience in field events as Kasarani filled to the brim on the last day

Mulei fails to finish in medal bracket but learns a thing or two in long and triple jump.