Kenyan Athletes in Mt Elgon Decry Neglect, Flee to Uganda

Kenyan athletes from Mt Elgon constituency in Bungoma county have opted to flee to neighboring Uganda where they claim that they are well appreciated.

The athletes who spoke to Nation Sport said that they have been neglected by both the county and national governments for too long.

They said that their numerous cries and pleas for proper training infrastructure, equipment and facilities to help boost and nurture their talents fell on deaf ears.

Samuel Kipkurui, who trains every morning and evening along the Kongit-Namwela road said that despite Mt Elgon region having a favourable climate, good training altitude with talented athletes, the government had given them a cold shoulder.

"Most of the athletes from the Mt Elgon side of Kenya have been forced to move to the Ugandan side where they are well catered for and are even well paid when they represent the country in various competitions," he said.

He said that the Kenyan athletes in Uganda have always won gold, silver and bronze medals in global competitions that Kenya could have bagged.

Kipkurui said that most of the athletes who have been winning medals for Uganda in global athletic competitions are Kenyans who moved to Uganda and acquired citizenship.

He said that in Kenya graft had rocked the athletes body making it hard for young and upcoming talents to develop.

"It is very sad that for an athlete to be in Kenyan team you must either know someone or pay something," he said.

He said that the Bungoma county government under former governor Ken Lusaka had started setting up a Sh300 million high altitude training center at Chemonges area that is yet to be finished.

Esau Ndiwa, an upcoming athlete from Kaptama area, said that they have waited for way too long to see the camp that was started in 2014 completed and functional.

"This camp will be one of a kind since it will be the only one in western part of this country," he said.

"If this facility is opened it will not only go along way in nurturing talents, but also open business opportunities for many residents around here," he said.

"We have very good talented youths with passion for athletics yet its being wasted away. We want the current governor Wycliffe Wangamati to ensure this facility is completed for it to assist our athletes who are opting to move to neighboring Uganda," he said.

He said that lack of support and sponsors has led to many good athletes changing their citizenship and moving to other countries.

He said his first race was in Uganda where he performed exemplary well that they wanted him to change his citizenship and run for them, something that he refused.

"Many of our athletes have lost hope since our leaders do not assist us and we find it very difficult since Athletics Kenya is very corrupt and does not give us chance to participate in the country races and trials," he said.

"Kiprotich, a Kenyan athlete in Uganda, is doing making them very proud by winning many trophies after he moved there due to frustrations by the athletes body, "he said.

An official from the county government said that they had completed the camp and its was only a matter of time before its commissioned.

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