Team Kenya arrived here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the Olympics with threats of a doping ban from World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) over Kenya’s non-compliance to its code, hanging on their heads.
IAAF, the athletics International Federation (IF), banned Russia, who went ahead to win 18 gold medals in Rio.
Wada and IAAF handed Kenya a lifeline, but the nation wallowed in a quagmire of challenges; some real, some imagined.
The Standard’s Bismarck Mutahi pitched camp in the Brazilian city and takes us through the 16 days of riveting action –of course, with an insightful account on the ugly, bad, good and funny moments during the games.
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1. Rotich and Anzrah: The case of athletics Team Manager Michael Rotich and coach John Anzrah being sent home will remain a sore thumb despite Kenya’s good performance in Rio as these games will rank as the best in history after the six gold, six silver and a bronze. This was better than Beijing (6-4-4) due to the number of silver medals.
How they found themselves in such a situation will be known once the games report is written and with Rotich’s case still in court.
2. Kits: The issue of Team Kenya kitting was also the talk of many, whether real or imagined. Even the Deputy President who visited the camp ordered a probe into the issue. Ironically, he was dressed in full Team Kenya kit as he spoke about the probe. The MPs, who also visited the camp, also spoke about it, with the National Olympic Committee officials. However, just like the MPs said, this discussion can only move forward once people see what is contained in the contract between NOC and Nike. Still on kitting at these Olympics, Nigeria also got their kit just days before the end of the games. So what is it with kitting?
3. Nkanata: 200m runner Carvin Nkanata had his accreditation sent to the US while he was on his way here. The fact that he arrived minus his accreditation yet he had no Kenyan passport meant he would not compete. He lodged a case with IOC and was finally allowed to compete, but only after jetting back from the US hours to the race. The results are there for all to see.
1. Asbel: How Asbel Kiprop failed to win the 1,500m gold will always be a question Kenyans will be asking long after the games. Kiprop was a shoo-in for gold and only he can tell us what really happened on the Olympic track.
2. Injuries: The injuries to Mike Mokamba, Elijah Manangoi and Julius Yego were among the bad things to happen to Team Kenya in Rio. Mokamba could not start his race, while Manangoi raced in the heats but not the semis. Yego got injured even though he won silver and maybe he would have won gold were it not for the injury.
3. 5,000m men: Kenya failed to field an athlete in the 5,000m finals at these Olympics for the first time in many years. This is a race we are supposed to be winning and surely investigations must start on what happened.
1. Vivian in 5000m: She had looked for it for many years, but finally Vivian Cheruiyot won an Olympic gold in Rio and she did that by beating Almaz Ayana, who beat her in the 10,000m. She also set a new national record in 10,000m.
2. Faith: Faith Chepngetich had faith in her work and she beat Ethiopia’s world champion Genzebe Dibaba, when it matters most, at the Olympics.
3. Jemimah: Maybe Jemimah Sumgong was expected to win gold after winning in London, but she opened the gold medal account for Kenya in Rio.
4. Rudisha returns: Rudisha was not expected to win as he was off form, but he returned the Olympic gold home.
5. Eliud and Conseslus: Eliud Kipchoge closed the Olympics well for Kenya with gold, but not only that. He had the honour of being awarded his gold during the closing ceremony at the famous Maracana Stadium and by none other than the IOC boss Thomas Bach and IAAF president Sebastain Co while Conselsus Kipruto won the 3,000m steeplechase with an Olympic Record.
6. Mucheru, Yego and Nyairera: They might not have won gold, but they made the world sit up and watch. Mucheru’s silver was won with a national record while Yego got a first ever medal in javelin at the Olympics for Kenya. Nyairera raced against revered Caster Semenya and bagged bronze.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario was quoted in one of the local dailies saying NOCK Kenyan officials were driven around Rio in limousines. What Wario doesn’t know or forgot is that NOCK officials are more important here than even ministers. The likes of Kipchoge Keino have own hotels paid for by IOC and are even allowed to bring along one member of the family.
Sprints coach John Anzrah upon arriving at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday, August 13, 2016.