Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has called on athletics stakeholders to identify and develop sprint runners from the grassroots to help Kenya enlarge their medal scope in future events. Speaking while awarding medallists from the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games yesterday, Collymore said it is time the corporate world, athletics bodies and the government came together to invest in facilities to help achieve this feat.
"Some of us are firm believers that Kenyans can do well in sprints," said Collymore. "Safaricom is committing to support Athletics Kenya (AK) and the other athletics authorities to make sure that we support sprinters because we can't just rely on the long distance runners," "The long distance runners do a great job but we think we now need to develop and invest, as a corporate, into making sure that we improve our sprinting chances," he said.
Collymore said he has met Sports Ministry PS James Waweru and AK chairman Isaiah Kiplagat over the same issue. "The two (Kiplagat and Waweru) were scheduled for a similar meeting last evening as they seek ways of executing the idea."
"However, we can't do it on our own. We need the rest of the corporates in Kenya and the government to invest in facilities at high altitude and at sea level.
Sprinters need gym facilities," observed Collymore insisting that the main undoing for the sprinters is lack of facilities.
"We will figure out what that cost is and how we can, in the long term, commit to this. We are not just doing it for the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games. You have to invest in the long term," added Collymore. He promised his company would continue providing support, morally and financially and if the rest of the corporates in Kenya can join in, then they will succeed in ensuring that the future of sprinters is bright.
Collymore's sentiments were supported by 800m world record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha who observed that Kenya has very high prospects of making it in the short races. I have a lot of passion for sprints and I believe Kenya is able to produce sprinters," observed Rudisha who started his career as a 200m and 400m sprinter.
"I moved to 800m because I was discouraged by so many people about the fate of sprinters in Kenya." "So far without proper trraining, I am running 45.5 seconds (in 400m) and maybe with good training I can be a good sprinter," said Rudisha.