The Star (Nairobi)

16 November 2012

Kenya: Politics Heat Up Eldoret Seminar

The involvement of world 800m champion David Rudisha, Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi in ongoing political campaigns is raising questions in athletics circles.

The trio were spotted in the ODM Reloaded team campaigning in various places in Elgeyo Marakwet County on Tuesday together with Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba.

The athletes are police officers. At the athletes seminar in Eldoret the subject of athletes and politics took centre stage yesterday.

Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat said athletes are national heroes who are also symbols of unity considering the fact they compete in national colours.

"The United Nations has declared sports as a unifying factor in the world and any sports personality is a sign of unity according to the UN.

Athletes in general and all prominent sports persons are not supposed to be partisan. All the Kenyans cheer them when they compete and you can see that unity irrespective of the tribe," Kiplagat said.

He further added that sports is used as a peace broker should anything happen because through it all the communities get united.

"Athletics Kenya has been at the top of the ladder as the most successfully run federation in the country because it does not get involved in politics.Our is to develop national heroes and champions," Kiplagat added.

Former five-time world cross country champion John Ngugi said several athletes have succeeded in life because they remain as national heroes.

"They should actually not indulge in politics because they tend to lean on certain regions.I think many of the athletes who attended the seminar benefited through the subject," Ngugi said.

Noah Ng'eny the former Olympic 1,500m gold medalist said athletes should maintained their outlook as national figures.

He said they are celebrated everywhere in the world unlike politicians who are partisan and serve their own interests.

"Our country has acquired respect and honour globally through athletics and the athletes should be careful not to indulge in politics because it may taint our image as a nation and their image as well," Ngeny advised.

The matter also has circulated in the social media with one Simion Chepkwony updating: "Ezekiel Kemboi, David Rudisha and Pamela Jelimo are ODM Reloaded. They were in Tambach yesterday with the Reloaded team, Sports minister is misusing them and yet their colleagues were in a seminar in Eldoret,"

Rudisha and Jelimo attended the seminar's opening ceremony on Tuesday while Kemboi attended the Wednesday session before leaving.

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