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IT'S PAY DAY

WEIRD NEWS
By | December 17th 2010

By GILBERT WANDERA

World beating athletes were back at the lawns of State House Nairobi on Thursday where the Government had laid out a red carpet welcome to celebrate their performance.

Apart from various speeches extolling their good performance in various competitions this year, the athletes left the seat of power Sh25million richer as the State continued with their policy of rewarding top performers.

Those feted include the victorious Commonwealth Games team, the African Junior team and the Youth Olympic team which represented the country in the first ever-Olympic held in Singapore.

The Commonwealth games team received Sh 14.225m while the rest shared Sh 11.425m.

For the Commonwealth games, gold medallists will receive She 500,000, silver medallists Sh300,000 and bronze medallists She 200,00. All finalists will go home with another Sh10,000. Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch said the criteria for dividing the rest of the money will be determined by the level of competition.

"For the Olympic event, those who won medals will earn higher compared to the African event," he said.

President Kibaki receives the flag from Commonwealth Games team captain Richard Mateelong (left) at State House, on Thursday. [PHOTO: STAFFORD ONDEGO]

In a departure from past traditions, the Government did not issue out cheques to the athletes but will transfer the money to their accounts.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) chairman Kipchoge Keino challenged the Government to introduce the lottery to raise funds for developing sports.

"Sports cannot develop without investment. I want to urge the Government to consider introducing the sports lottery so that we can have enough money to develop the various disciplines," he said.

Sports Minister Paul Otuoma said the lottery would be in place once the sports bill becomes law.

"We have already sorted out the financial implications of the bill with the Treasury and it is now awaiting cabinet approval before being taken back to Parliament," he said.

Otuoma also emphasised the importance of sports as an industry that needs to be taken seriously.

The Sports Minister once again said that his office was working with the world football governing body Fifa to ensure that football affairs in the country are sorted out once and for all.

President Kibaki who hosted the athletes directed the Ministry of Sports to work on making the sports lottery operational.

"This has taken long to become a reality despite the fact that it has the potential to turn around our sports," he said in a speech read to athletes who gathered at State House.

Kibaki did not keep off from the football wrangles saying the poor performance of the national team Harambee Stars was causing great concern to the whole country and asked the Ministry of Sports to intervene.

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