The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Keep the Peace

World 800m record holder David Rudisha has called on Kenyans to embrace the spirit of sports during this electioneering period.

Speaking during the 2012 Safaricom Soya Awards on Thursday night, Rudisha observed that in sports, competitors involve themselves in competitions fairly and after competing the winners and the losers embrace each other and move on.

"This is an election year and we want our youth to promote peace," said Rudisha.

"We want Kenyans to stay together as brothers and face the election in a peaceful manner so we can have another successful year. Lets not give our leaders a hard time."

Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba also called on Kenyans to maintain peace in the spirit of sportsmanship.

"We should exploit the potential presented by sports to drive the agenda of peace and national unity," said Namwamba.

"When David Rudisha smashes the world record, we don't stop to ask from which county or region he comes from.

"I want to challenge sports people to be the ambassadors of peace, national unity and cohesion of our nation," added Namwamba.

Speaking at the same forum, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore observed that Kenya could not afford to ignore the role played by our athletes in promoting the national agenda through their international triumphs that have put the country on the world map.

"They have made us visible to the rest of the world. Fervent followers of international news have seen the world's attempt to explain our victory. But we are good at running because we are good. Our sportsmen train hard," Collymore observed.

"People like David Rudisha, Paul Tergat, Pamela Jelimo and the rest have given their all in waving our flag high. The sporting heroes we celebrate here tonight are a source of inspiration for this country."

"The Paralympians in particular have done a wonderful job in reminding us that all is possible, and that performance is without limitation. From London, they brought home six medals.

We at Safaricom wanted to appreciate this winning feat, by giving them cash prizes for their relentless efforts. This is just ba small portion of what we can do. They are not limited in their triumphs, and we are not limited in the way we can motivate them."

He added that the growth of the SOYA from a six-award scheme to a 16-award event is a step in the right direction since they are now in a position to recognise all individuals and teams that have performed excellently at any particular time.

"We understand and respect the responsibility of sports in defining and constructing our national identity," said Collymore. Each win is an overpowering national sentiment, a feeling of belonging and victory that sweeps across the nation. We become champions together. When they win, we all win."

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