Medals Come Too Easy For Kenya

Kenya is the most successful Olympic team in Africa, with a medal count of 86 after the London Games.

With exception of one gold , one silver and five bronze medals from Boxing, all other medals have come from Track and Field. Correction make that track only.

26 sports disciplines were featured in London and Rio. Kenya was represented in 7 disciplines, Athletes, Archery, Boxing, Judo, swimming, Weightlifting and Rugby sevens. A total of 165 Athletes.

Out of the 26 sports, Kenya is active in 19 disciplines.

To be entered as a participant in the Olympics is an achievement, and earns the athlete the title Olympiad. Many will go to the extent of getting a tattoo (RINGS) to celebrate the achievement.

Athletes have to go through a qualification process which is normally set by the respective International Federations. Each International Federation (IF) is allocated a number slots and beds at the Olympic village. For example in badminton, The Mens Singles event is allocated 64 slots. Hence the BWF has created a process to fill these slots using the World ranking, other sports like swimming and athletes have a qualifying time which the athlete must achieve in an international or recognized competition.

There in lies the answer is to why we only qualified in 7 sports.
The burden of preparing and qualifying participants in Kenya lies with the individual sports federations.

Preparation and Qualification requires international exposure and availability of coaching facilities. Hence poorly funded federations fall out before they can even start.

Success in Swimming by the Dunford brothers can be solely attributed to the investment by their families. The Swimming federation neither has a pool, coaching or funding to send swimmers across the globe. The results in Rio are evidence of the same. The swimming federation depends heavily on the parents to fund international travel, and schools to provide training facilities.

Its ironic that the Government will be spending approximately half a million per participant in allowances and zero in their preparation.

As team manager for the badminton team to Glasgow 2014, we received more than 4 Million in allowances as a team, yet our request for training shuttlecocks of kshs 300,000.00 was not honoured. Players purchased their own rackets and court shoes.

It’s a wonder that we managed quarter finals in the ladies doubles.

I am not privy to the Rio finances, but from the media reports teams like Table Tennis and Volleyball struggled to raise funds to send teams for qualification events. Badminton didn’t even attempt. A quick audit will reveal that the amount spent on preparation will be a very very small fraction of what is being spent on allowances and air tickets. And here am not even referring to the joyriders.

Many Kenyans don’t know that, it is the international (managers) agents that actually invest training and international appearances for most of our coming track athletes. The same athletes that are later selected for national assignments. Some of course change nationality on advise of the same agents.

Am sure our track results would be very different if the agents were eliminated from the scene.

Our Rugby federation is probably among the best organized and structured among the other more than 50 registered federations. The 7s team is well exposed, but they too are on record saying that with part time athletes results will always be limited.

Yes there are more than 50 sports federations. Over and above the 19 olympic sports, there other non-olympic sports federations, e.g cricket , netball, chess, squash, lawn bowling etc

As a country we are like a student who invests in the exam fees and clipboards, but fails to attend class or study for the exam.

Yet we are surprised when we get Es.

We are like a class with a few genius students who do not need to study to pass the exam, and we now expect the average students to do the same.

The track medals have come easy to Kenya, and we have come to expect the same from other sports without any investment.

The entire government budget goes to sending teams to the games and nothing to the preparations. Today the Ministry of Sports should be investing in our 2020 and 2024 teams, which should be in camp already.

Before sending more government officials for a bench marking trip, I suggest that they spend sometime on YouTube and search “Road to Rio” ;
There they might get an insight in what it takes to win medals

Stronger economies like ; Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal can only marvel at our success in amazement; no wonder without a logical explanation of the success, drug abuse seems a real possibility.

Like what you read? Give Peter Gacheru a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.