Kenya's Olympic Journey: 2012

Kenya’s curse of abundant talent

Team Kenya’s performance at the 2012 Olympics was disappointing. Two gold medals from a controversy laden camp full of joy-riders is a story we would like to forget fast. Before we press ‘delete’- Kenyatta Otieno takes a look at a blessing that may be turning into our curse in athletics.

When Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich ran away with the Marathon gold medal on the last day of 2012 Olympics, Kenyans were torn. Part of us wanted to be happy for our neighbours in the spirit of East African Cooperation for hearing their national anthem sang at the Olympics after 40 years. Then we were disappointed by our athletes’ failure to redeem the poor show at the last minute.

Forget our government officials surpassing our athletes in numbers and perks. Ignore the synchronized drinking and s-tipple chase that the officials took to in London. These may have contributed to the dismal performance but they are evidence of complacent attitude.

This is one Olympics the National Olympics Council of Kenya- NOCK will want to forget very fast. Before it is archived, I beg them to look at it with a clinical lens. The mistakes need to be owned and solutions sought, not as a punitive measure but more for progressive restitution.

The fall of the best

As Olympics progressed, FIFA released the World Football rankings and as usual Kenya dropped. The screaming fact was Brazil at position thirteen. It is not news when Kenya is below position one hundred but for Brazil to miss a top ten position, is hot cake of news.

That is where Kenya finds itself when we lose in middle and long distance races. Like Brazil in football, we never lack athletics talent; we have never been bothered about it since Kipchoge Keino won gold at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

When Kaka (Ricardo) dips in form at Real Madrid and Ronaldinho drops at AC Milan to end up in Flemingo, it is no big deal for Brazil. Neymar and Oscar will rise to replace them, and Brazil opens a new phase in their national team seamlessly.

When Paul Tergat slowly went out of the marathon scene and Haile Gabrselasie broke his marathon record. It did not take long before the late Samuel Wanjiru won the Beijing Olympic gold and Patrick Makau snatched the record from King Haile.

We failed to shine on the tracks save for a good show from David Rudisha, Ezekiel Kemboi and “You Tube” javelin man Julius Yego. Brazil did much better in Olympic football but fell to Mexico in the finals, another anti-climax to a gifted side failing when it matters.

The curse of the gifted

Like Brazil, we are suffering from the curse of the gifted, prone to talented individuals but herein evident in a nation. Exceptional talent has become the rope with which many people have hanged themselves. It is the route to the gate of no return, but the few who return end up as a pale shadow of their former selves, reminiscing more of the good old days.

For a country to be able to produce many exceptional talents, any of which could make for a great career; having an abundance of choices is "both a blessing and a curse." It either makes one complacent or prone to self destructive tendencies, the former applies to national teams more so the officials.

Sadananad Vishwanath or simply Sada was an emerging gem of talent in Indian Cricket. In recent press interviews he looked back on his life with a certain calm resignation. “Fame is heady,” he said. “It is so sudden, it catches you unprepared. It is intoxicating; it gets to your head and messes with it.”

The fame and status that comes with winning may have gone into the head of NOCK as an organization and the officials as well. Like Sada, they got intoxicated by the fact that individual athletes train well and always win. The national trials have even been dabbed “world championships”- a tag which has led to complacency.

The winning works in two ways, it covers the complacency and mediocrity by blinding the public. Then the public basks in the glory our athletes bring without questioning. When we perform dismally, it exposes our officials’ lack of seriousness; we all know it is not about talent or the lack of it.

The scaffolding of greed

The tussle between athletes, Athletics Kenya and NOCK on the pre- Olympic Bristol Camp should have sounded alarm bells to the government. Ezekiel Kemboi went off to Bristol and flew back to train at Kasarani. There must have been more to this Bristol business than we got to hear. 

The fact is, by taking the athletes early, the officials were entitled to a KSH. 24,000 per day allowance. The camp was a good idea not to the team’s performance but for the officials pocket and desire for all paid for ‘holiday.’

Nike- the official Team Kenya kit suppliers experienced the Kenyan greed first hand. Athletes demonstrated to their London offices and they had to provide extra kits. The 200 kits supplied ended up with officials before the athletes, I wonder how they fit in them with their pot-bellies. Nike said the kits did not cover officials.

David Danford bought his own swimming kit and David Rudisha’s medal award ceremony had to be delayed as a ceremonial kit was sought. If Rudisha as captain did not get a ceremonial kit, then who did the officials expect to win a gold medal? If tribalism, nepotism and impunity are a threat to our nationhood, someone needs to save us from our greed. Greed is the scaffolding that we will hang on as a society.

We will still reign

We have not seen the last of Brazil and so we have not seen the last of Kenya yet. Nature has endowed us with the ability to produce runners with little or no organized effort. The way of life for children in the Rift Valley coupled with the prevailing environment works for us. No one can take this from us, not Ethiopians, Ugandans or even our greedy officials.

Ethiopia will specialize; there will be (Abebe) Bikila, (Deratu) Tulu, King Haile, then (Kenenisa) Bekele, successively. They always have one reigning athlete at a time; it is now (Tirunesh) Dibaba. Somalia born Mo Farah’s double win for Britain in 10,000 and 5,000 metres does not mean much, I doubt if Britain will import another top talent soon.

Kenya on the other hand can produce several top athletes at a time. This is the reason why I believe we will still rule the tracks for a long time to come. The other countries will capitalize on breaking the run of our specific athletes, but it will be temporary. 

This does not mean we relax, who knows- just as Spain has broken Brazil’s reign in World Football, someone could be plotting to end our reign in athletics. Let us learn from our mistakes in London and take our athletics seriously. Natural gifting is only a blessing to the wise, on the contrary it may just be a curse that brings gloom.

 

Menengai Cream Homeboyz and KCB secured home semifinal qualification at the close of the Kenya Cup’s league phase on Saturday 25 March 2017.

Kenya has improved tremendously in the past year posting positive results that has seen them rise in rankings into the top 90 in the World.

Serial satellite tour winner Matt Wallace will look to continue the habit tomorrow on the European Challenge Tour as he takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the Barclays Kenya Open after an impressive Moving Day at Muthaiga Golf Club.

The Englishman was four shots behind overnight leader Adrien Saddier but his four under par third round of 67 took him to 12 under par, with Saddier and Aaron Rai his closest rivals.

The 26 year old was unstoppable on the Alps Tour last year, winning on five successive appearances before sealing a dominant top spot in the Order of Merit by also triumphing at the Grand Final.

Top ten finishes on the Challenge Tour in Spain and Italy last season also suggested he was ready to compete at this level and he was understandably delighted with his day’s work in Nairobi as he goes in search of the biggest victory of his young career.

“I played really nicely today,” he said. “Not actually as well as the last two days, but I gave myself a lot of chances today and managed to get through a scruffy patch in the middle and finish nicely again.

“I birdied the last two holes and did the same yesterday – I had a really nice yardage into 17 and decided to really attack it and stuffed it in there really close and 18 is always a really good birdie chance.

“I really approached today the same as all week, I was obviously four shots behind Adrien so I was trying to shoot as low as I could and post a good score, but I didn’t think I’d be leading – I’m there though and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

“I’m hoping to learn from this experience because this is definitely the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of, especially the last few holes there, with a lot of people coming down. They really appreciate the good shots so hopefully I can give them something to cheer again tomorrow.

“I’ve got a local caddie on the bag this week who’s been doing the job here for 26 years – as long as I’ve been living! I talk to him a lot because I find if I go quiet I lose confidence.

“He’s been very good so far because obviously he knows the course very, very well – there’s been a few club decisions where I’ve gone ‘really?’ and it’s turned out perfect, so he knows his stuff and he knows my game well, given we’ve only been together for three or four days.

“Last year’s success was massive for me. I try to dumb it down as much as possible and say it’s just golf, and it is, but hopefully I can take the performances from last year into tomorrow.

“Jordan Smith showed last year how possible it is to move quickly to the top of the Challenge Tour from the satellite tours. I play with guys on the European Tour, Callum Shinkwin in particular, a lot and I think if I can compete with him, I know I can do it out here too.”

Three bogeys on the front nine cost France’s Saddier his lead while Englishman Rai birdied three of his final four holes for a round of 69 and a share of second place.

Welshman Rhys Davies, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour, momentarily topped the leaderboard before a scrappy back nine left him one shot further back on ten under par.

Also well within striking distance going into the final day are South Africans Jaco Ahlers and Louis De Jager and Sweden’s Jens Dantorp, all of whom share fifth place on nine under par, just three behind Wallace.

Source -- European Tour

Lots of matches for World Cup qualifiers today. We have some betting tips for you

The Hockey and Rugby teams of Upper Hill School have registered positive results as this year's Nairobi region Term One A School games got underway at State House Girls and Nairobi School.

Upper Hill won 2-0 against Nairobi School in boys' Hockey and humiliated Jamhuri School 31-0 in Boys' Rugby.

But while Nairobi school salvaged their day beating Aquinas 38-0 in Rugby, Jamhuri's bad day continued suffering yet another humiliating 34-3 defeat against Muhuri Muvhiri  in Boys' Rugby.

In Other results Parklands Arya won 2-0 against Hillcrest in Girls Hockey and proceeded to 3-0 against Kianda while still in boys' Hockey, Starehe won 2-1 against Makongeni.

The games will continue on Sunday the 26th with the regional winners proceeding to the finals to be played in April. 

National Hockey Champions Friends School Kamusinga from Bungoma County were eliminated from this year's competition after a 1-0 loss to Kakamega County's Musingu High School in the finals of the Western region Term one A school Games. Musingu will now represent the region at the Nationals to be played in April.

In basketball Boys finals, Busia County's Sigalame High School white washed Vihiga's Chavakali 107-34 to seal to book a ticket for the finals. The games were played at St. Peters High School in Mumias. 

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Hockey

Musingu High School - Boys 

Misikhu High School - Girls 

BasketBall 

Sigalame High School - Boys

Tigoi High School - Gils 

 

Good news for the Blues! Eden Hazard is reportedly set to return to training next week as he continues his recovery from a calf injury.

Liverpool will welcome back Steven Gerrard this Saturday as the adored son of the Kop makes a return to his boyhood Club.

Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart has spoken about his life at Italian side Torino and where he wants to be next.

Aussie gun Daniel Ricciardo has crashed out during qualifying for the Melbourne Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel beat his own lap record at Albert Park as he topped the time-sheet in the final free practice before the Australian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

The four-times champion Germans lap of one minute 23.380 seconds eclipsed his pole record of 1:23.529 set at the lakeside circuit in 2011, and was nearly half a second faster than both the Mercedes cars.

New Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who replaced retired champion Nico Rosberg, was second fastest, just edging three-times champion teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, with Nico Hulkenberg fifth in his Renault.

Red Bulls Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest, with his teammate Max Verstappen 12th.

Williams rookie driver Lance Stroll skidded into a barrier and blew a tyre, causing the red flag to be raised with 10 minutes left in the session.

The session was then called off, leaving constructors champions Mercedes unable to improve upon their times and adding spice to the qualifying session later on Saturday.

Hamilton was fastest in both practice sessions on Friday.

Ireland and Everton defender Seamus Coleman faces up to a year on the sidelines after breaking his leg during a World Cup qualifier against Wales.

The ever-present risk of serious leg injuries in football was unfortunately realised once again as Wales’ Neil Taylor was shown a red card for a poor tackle during the 0-0 draw.

Once he realised what had happened, Coleman held onto his damaged leg while waiting for help.

Coleman was given oxygen on the field as medical staff attempted to immobilise his leg before taking to and ambulance and then hospital.

The final score took a back seat to Coleman’s well-being  after the match.

“It’s a bad break. Seamus is a fantastic player and character - it’s a major blow for the lad, for his club and for us,’’ Ireland manager Martin O’Neill told the UK’s Sky Sports.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world - I haven’t seen it back - but naturally disappointed. He’s gone to hospital and I think it’s broken.

“I saw Seamus’ reaction - he was holding his leg up and it didn’t look good.”

The length of Taylor’s suspension is yet to the decided but one this is for sure – Coleman is facing a lengthy stint of rehab before his professional career resumes.

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SNCF will advise the French Rugby Federation (FFR) on transport and sustainable mobility options, and support the implementation of a ticketing strategy for the World Cup.

The company will also provide logistical support to the FFR during different stages of the application process while promoting the bid both nationally and internationally.

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FFR president Bernard Laporte said: “(We are) very pleased to be able to count on the expertise of these two companies with world-renowned know-how to help us in our application. This support again illustrates the strong mobilisation of the economic world behind #France2023.”

France faces competition from Ireland and South Africa in its bid to stage the 2023 World Cup. The World Rugby Council will select the winning bid on November 15.