Prolific sports talents who disappeared from big stage

Kenya's Pamela Jelimo competes in a women's 800-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP)

They came, they conquered but then disappeared in a flash. 

Like Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela – which was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for its “highest concentration of lightning” each year – some Kenyan sports stars hit the world stage on the pitch, tracks and courts and faded away like lightning.

They took the world by storm, staging impressive shows before disappearing in the same world record pace they announced themselves with

For athletes, it’s hard to remeber Pamela Jelimo? What about former Commonwealth Games 800m champion Japhet Kimutai, three-time Amsterdam winner Wilson Chebet and former world marathon record holder Patrick Makau? These heroes and heroines left the world stage without a good bye.

From 2008 Olympic 800m champion and IAAF Gold League jackpot winner Pamela Jelimo, former world marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto, former Boston and New York marathons winner Geoffrey Mutai to former Africa 1500m champion Haroun ‘Land Cruiser’ Keitany, these record-breaking machines left the athletics world in awe.

They share a cocktail of success – rising from grass to grace, and then there are the occassional grass to grace to grass again.

But it is Jelimo’s impressive performances in the 2008 season that has since left the sporting world pondering what went wrong. The list is too long.

Playing in top European leagues such as English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga is a dream that every footballer aspires to achieve.

Whether the quest is to test their mettle against world’s top footballers, seize the fame that comes with it or earning a lucrative contract; the deal is is always too inviting to resist. And Bernard Mwarome, who landed on a deal to play for German giants, Bayern Munich at the age of 17, is a case in point.

Born in Germany 1997 but with Kenyan roots now teams up with the big boys in Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller. Mwarome made history by being the only Kenyan to play for the top German side.

Tylor Ongwae, who who recently helped Bakken Bears to win their 18th title is a Kenyan basketball star who helped kenya beat angola for the very first time...making history with his buzzer beater....these are just a clique of stars who have Kenyan roots but born and bred overseas.

On the local scene, some footballers appeared and disappeared so fast.

Paul kiongera was a hugely talented midfielder during his early days at KCB. In 2012, he finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 10 goals. He wasa a striker anyone would have wanted to have in their side.

The following season Kiongera crossed over to Gor Mahia where he netted seven goals as K’Ogalo ended their 18-year title drought.

He looked set to join a German club after the expiry of his one-year loan deal at Gor but missed out on the opportunity due to nagging knee injury.

Kiongera was on the move again in 2015 to Tanzanian giants Simba SC after making an impressive comeback from injury at KCB.

He then picked up an injury forcing him to return to KCB after making only nine appearances for Simba. 

He joined AFC Leopards in 2016 after recovering from the injury before fading out.

Edwin Lavatsa is another player who burst onto the KPL scene before disappearing in a flash.

He became a fans’ darling after scoring crucial goals to help the club win the FA Cup on his debut in 2011 and the 2013 KPL title.

Lavatsa got himself straight into the starting line up after joining the Green Army in 2011 from Upper Hill Secondary School. He was also part of the Harambee Stars squad that won the 2012 Cecafa Senior Challenge in Nairobi. His career nosedived at Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 side MC Alger in 2014.


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