As you read this, the London Olympic Games are already underway. Athletes from all corners of the world are already there to show the world what they have been up to for the last four years. Over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries will take part. The games' programme features 26 sports and a total of 39 disciplines.
By the way, the games are officially referred to as the 2012 Summer Olympic Games or Games of the XXX Olympiad and also as the London 2012. They will last from July 27 until August 12. However, before the official opening on 27 July, the first event; the group stages in the women's football were underway for two days.
For the first time, the games will leave a smile on the faces of the feminists. Saudi Arabia will field female athletes for the first time. More so, the games will have women's boxing included for the first time.
The world's newest nation South Sudan is likely to participate "under colours" since it has not completed the process of setting up an Olympic committee. Meanwhile the other Sudan is already making headlines that are far from winning them any medals.
Sudan sent a team of six athletes one of whom was reported to have preferred the police station to the Olympic village where the athletes are supposed to stay during the games. Apparently, the middle distance runner walked into a police station in Leeds and sought asylum claiming that he was being persecuted in his homeland. The said athlete was in the hands of the UK Borders Agency by the time of writing this article.
Digging up on the Olympic Games opened my eyes to some amazing facts and statistics particularly about East Africa. I read a little about the East African Community as well as our neighbours. I will start with the neighbours.
Sudan as I have already told you has a team of six now five since the asylum seeker technically can't compete now. Somalia only has two athletes Mohamed Hassan Mohamed and Zamzam Mohamed Farah.
The Democratic Republic of Congo with all its size and population only managed to send four athletes. One could argue that the small teams are also a reflection of the troubled domestic politics of these countries.
As far as the EAC is concerned, this is what I found out. Burundi has a team of six athletes for the London Olympics. As far as the Olympic Games are concerned, Burundi has one medal to its name. A gold medal secured by Venuste Niyomugabo (5000 metres) at the 1996 games in Atlanta. Interestingly the 1996 games were the first ones for Burundi.
Rwanda has sent a team of seven athletes to London, led by cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti. However, the games' history has not been kind to Rwanda which is yet to win a medal at the Olympics despite participating in seven different Olympiads. The consolation here is that Jean de Dieu Nkundabera won a Paralympic bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens.
Our Tanzanian brothers have also sent a team of seven athletes and their history shows that they have two medals (both silver) to their name from the Moscow 1980 games.
Uganda has a team of 16 athletes led by swimmer Ganzi Mugula. The country also has 6 Olympic medals in its collection the last one being the bronze medal by Davis Kamoga in the 400 metres at the Atlanta 1996 games. John Akii-Bua's gold medal in the 1972 Munich games remains the only gold medal for Uganda. The other medals were from boxing.
Kenya takes the lion's share in this field. The region's biggest economy has etched its name in the Olympics history by dominating the long races. This year they have sent a team of 47 athletes (many more will be competing for other nations) but their medal cabinet has an amazing 75 medals!
As the games go on, all the athletes will be looking for glory and perhaps a better life. Some will settle for medals and the monetary rewards, while others will seek asylum or simply go shopping in London!
For some countries, the officials will take the lion's share of the allowances and hope that the athletes will compete anyway. May the best athletes win their respective races. Enjoy the games. Good luck to all the East Africans.