30 August 2012

Kenya: PM Blames Nock for Olympic Flop

Photo: David Ndolo/The Star
President Mwai Kibaki hands over the national flag to 2012 Olympic team captain, David Rudisha (file photo).

PRIME Minister Raila Odinga yesterday blamed Team Kenya's poor perfomance in the London Olympics to poor management.

Raila told MPs during the Prime Minister's Question time the team's performance was undermined by poor selection, training, preparations and management.

Politicisation of the team, boycott of residential training by some athletes, differences in travelling dates and the pre-competition injuries also contributed to the poor show. Kenya won two gold medals through Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3,000m steeplechase and David Rudisha in the 800 metres, in a total haul of 11 medals.

Already, President Kibaki has ordered investigations into the performance saying it was wrong for sports officials to take Kenya's success for granted. However, giving a history of Kenya's participation in the Olympics Games, Raila said the performance in London was not as bad as the public has concluded.

Raila said the performance was only worse than that of Beijing in 2004 and Seoul in 1988, but better than the rest. However, Raila's statement triggered furor with MPs Haroun Mwau, Elijah Lagat, Martha Karua, William Ruto and John Mbadi accusing him of not walking the talk. Ruto accused the government of managing sports through crisis and demanded a for a plan be developed to encourage the youths to participate in sports.

"The plan will enable Kenyans invest in sports in a way that will encourage, compensate and tap ion the talents of our youths," he said. Emgwen MP Elijah Lagat, a former athlete, blamed the poor performance on poor tactics and accused the government of neglecting retired athletes. He said the decision to send part of team Kenyan to Oregon had contributed to poor performance because athletes didn't acclimatise.

He even claimed that Kemboi had raced in a attire meant for female athletes. Raila said the government and the National Olympic Committee are working on a plan to improve training methods for the athletes and review of how officials are appointed. "The question of taking the team to Oregon was a tactical maneuver. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. We can't blame anybody for that.

Sports minister Paul Otuoma said the government had facilitated Team Kenya with Sh160 million which over above what was raised by the individual federations in preparations for the Games. He said the ministry has reviewed a Sports marshal plan developed 10 years ago and urged Mps to support once it comes to the House. "The sports Bill is before the House committee on Social welfare. It will create a sports lottery to fund sports because government can't manage."

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