1 May 2017

Kenya: Only Officials With Proven Track Record Deserve Nock Seats

opinion

The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) finally goes to the polls this Friday amid huge expectations after a season blotted by controversy, runaway theft and wanton mismanagement of Kenyan sport.

Last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro may have been Kenya's best in terms of medal count, but they were clearly the worst as far as (mis)management is concerned.

Sadly, no action has been taken against those adversely mentioned in the corruption scam that reared its ugly head in the country's Rio Olympics sojourn, not even after President Uhuru Kenyatta himself repeatedly assured the nation that those culpable would be brought to account.

INCOMPETENT INDIVIDUALS

This indecision and inaction only goes to sanctify runaway graft that is threatening to bring Kenyan sport down to its knees.

In the next few months, Kenya will host multi-million shilling competitions, namely the IAAF World Under-18 Championships and football's Africa Nations Championships.

Billions in taxpayers' cash has been allocated to these competitions with Local Organising Committees already in full throttle.

Federations concerned, namely Athletics Kenya and Football Kenya Federation, must stand guard and ensure these championships are delivered without incompetent individuals angling themselves to loot taxpayers' hard-earned cash voted to finance these games.

Indeed, the role of federations in ensuring financial prudence and speedy development of our sport cannot be over-emphasized.

While congratulating athletics legend Paul Tergat for sailing home unopposed as Nock President following incumbent Kipchoge Keino's failure to put in his nomination, it's important to stress that Kenya's further success at the Olympics can only be secured through strong federations, solid financing mechanisms and incentive schemes for athletes.

Kenya should adopt the Great Britain model where funding for associations is commensurate to delivery of medals and the podium potential.

The British system provides for UK Sport -- the equivalent of our nascent Sports Kenya -- rolling out a four-year cycle of financing in its World Class Programme and Athlete Performance Awards strategy that offers rewards and incentives to top achievers only.

For instance, the merit-based Athlete Performance Awards scheme hands out 28,000 pounds (Sh3.7 million) to Olympic medallists over the four-year period with any athlete who finishes in the top eight at the Olympics and world championship events receiving 21,500 pounds' (Sh2.85 million) funding.

UNPAID BONUSES

The British also dole out 15,000 pounds (Sh2 million) to high performance athletes with podium potential to aid their training and preparations for the Olympics and various world championship events.

Conversely, in Kenya, top achievers hardly get any financial support.

Sadly, even those who medal at major competitions are forgotten, a case in point being the fact that our medallists at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Daegu are yet to receive their cash bonuses.

The below-par transition of performers from junior to senior level could largely be explained by the fact that we never invest in our podium potentials, an area Tergat and his new committee at Nock must target as we effectively launch preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

That aside, with Tergat already through as Nock president, federations must now set the right tone by electing into his executive committee only officials from federations that have delivered world class performances.

Looking at the list of aspirants for Nock office, it's disturbing to see characters from federations that hardly organise any serious village competition, let alone run national programmes, lining up for high office.

What can they deliver on the Olympic stage while they can't even put together a village competition?

The failings of the current Nock office are largely due to the fact that officials without proven track record at federation stage have been allowed to oversee bigger national dockets.

We don't need such ne'er-do-wells in Tergat's executive that has already set lofty standards by picking high achievers -- sevens legend Humphrey Kayange and Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri -- to sit in the executive as athletes' representatives.

***

With the first three major marathons of 2017 -- Tokyo, Boston and London -- done and dusted, the spotlight is now on Athletics Kenya's selection panel ahead of August's IAAF World Championships in London.

Kenya completed a sweep of all titles at these three Majors, with Wilson Kipsang and Sarah Chepchirchir winning in Tokyo, Geoffrey Kirui and Edna Kiplagat in Boston, while Daniel Wanjiru and Mary Keitany ran away with the London titles, Keitany winning in a world record two hours, 17 minutes and one second.

Naturally, these six should be on the short-list, depending on their availability and season plans.

Also, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge should be considered, his attempt at breaking the two-hour barrier in Monza this weekend notwithstanding.

Kipchoge is one of our most mature athletes and I have no doubt he can both break the two-hour barrier and win Kenya gold on the streets of London.

I wish Eliud, his GSC management and Nike all the best in Monza this Saturday!

Kenya

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