22 August 2012

Kenya: Kibaki Orders Olympics Probe

PRESIDENT Mwai Kibaki yesterday directed the Sports ministry to investigate the dismal performance of Team Kenya at the recently concluded Olympics Games in London. He said that the poor results were a concern to Kenyans and needed to be addressed. Kibaki was handing the Kenyan flag to the motocross team that will compete in the 2012 continental championship in Kampala this weekend. Motocross is the sport of racing motorcycles on off-road circuits.

Kenya's only gold medals in London were won by Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3,000m steeplechase and David Rudisha in the 800 metres. Kenya won six golds at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Speaking at State House Nairobi, President Kibaki said that it was wrong for sports officials to take Kenya's sports success for granted.

"We are proud of Kenya's position as a leading sporting nation. Let us never take that for granted," said Kibaki. Team Kenya is yet to return the flag to the President. Preparations for the London Olympics were shambolic with some athletes training in Oregon USA, Bristol UK and Nairobi.

Kemboi, who abandoned the team in London after winning his gold, criticized the Bristol centre which he said was windy. While the athletes were in Bristol, Team Kenya officials relocated to London where they were paid a daily allowance of US$ 300. The officials were accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Sports.

The September 5 edition of the Economist questioned the choice of Bristol in a story called 'Running home'. "Kenya's running stars, who account for 53 of the country's 59 Olympians, are renowned for training in the heat and at high altitudes. So it was surprising that Kenya's National Olympic Committee picked Bristol, a low-lying and often damp English city, to set up a training camp before the games. Most of the athletes refused to attend; some remained in the Kenyan hills, others headed to Oregon in America," said the article.

"This is the best thing that sports can receive, the backing by the highest office in the land. We have been asking for such indulgence over the years and the move by the president will definitely culminate in Kenyans being informed on what has been going on with our teams," said Robert Ouko, a member of the 4x400m relay gold medal team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

"It's absolutely necessary that there is such a report. We need to know what went wrong (in London) and at the same time have have a platform to derive solutions to the mistakes that were made," said veteran sports administrator and current Kenya Volleyball Federation chairman Waithaka Kioni.

"Every year the country takes part in competitions and we are told that there will be a report. This unfortunately has never happened. Now that it has come from the president we are going to know what happened and how best we can avoid it in the future. Those responsible for the demise of the team will be held responsible," said George Kariuki, a long distance and walking race coach.

Yesterday the President stated that he was still awaiting reports from Parliament and the Sports Council on mismanagement at the All Africa Games in Maputo in September last year. Parliament is investigating maladministration where players were did not have official uniforms while some Taekwondo players traveled by bus to Maputo only to be locked out of the Kenyan camp by managers. Despite the problems, the Taekwondo team won medals in Maputo.

The managers also claimed that Kenya had entered a men netball team in the Maputo games. The team travelled but never took part in the event. Maputo Chef de Mission Charles Nyaberi, the treasurer of the Kenya National Sports Council council, told the parliamentary Labour and Welfare Committee last November that nepotism, corruption, extortion and favoritism had riddled sections of the Maputo games.

He admitted that the boxing team was forced to pay participation fees from its own pockets; the mens netball team was flown to and fro and paid allowances without playing a single match; and that some clothing ordered for the games was yet to be received by players months after the games.

Yesterday Kibaki said the reports on the London Olympics and Maputo All Africa Games would guide the country in future events. The Maputo report is yet to be debated in Parliament. Kibaki reminded sports federations and officials that they only hold leadership positions in trust on behalf of Kenyans.

The President also asked sports managers to show transparency and accountability in their leadership. "They must, therefore, at all times put the needs and aspirations of the sporting fraternity above any other consideration," he said. The President urged sportsmen and women to uphold the hard work exhibited in past championships and remember that young people look upon them as role models.

Kibaki observed that discipline and hard work are the hallmarks of champions. He remembered that Kenya was victorious in the All Africa athletics championships in Nairobi and called on the East African Motor Sports Club to emulate that victory in Kampala this weekend. Kibaki congratulated parents for supporting the young riders.

The President also presented trophies to champions in various motocross categories. Sports Minister Paul Otuoma said his ministry recognised the importance of youth development and was working closely with the Ministry of Education in early identification and development of young talent. Otuoma said the commitment of the Kenya national motocross team was a clear testimony of their determination to win the Uganda championships.

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