NAIROBI, Kenya, September 18- The call to broaden Kenya’s opportunities from distance running was made as communications firm Safaricom paid out Sh17.2m ($204,762) to Kenyan medallists from London Olympics and Paralympics Games on Tuesday.
In what amounted to the biggest payout by a firm to Kenyan sporting exponents, David Korir, the silver winner at the Paralympics Games in the 1500 m T 12 and 800 m T 13 races was the biggest beneficiary of the day with Sh2.4m ($28,571) for his medals and going under the world record in the first event.
Abraham Tarbei who scooped the Paralympics 1500m T46 gold in world record time before adding bronze in the 800m of the same class was next with Sh2.3m ($27,381).
Olympic champion and men 800m world record holder, David Rudisha and Paralympics gold medallist Samuel Mushai who also set a world record and his guide, James Boit sealing the top three recipients with Sh2m ($23,810) each.
“I’m very surprised! I didn’t expect it! I came ready to split the cheque with Mushai,” the stunned Boit said after receiving an equal sum to his runner in what was an unprecedented gesture from the company.
In total, the Paralympics team with four gold, two silver and two bronze medals was awarded Sh10.3m ($122,619) while their Olympics counterparts who brought home two gold, four silver and five bronze took home Sh6.9m ($82,143).
Field athlete Mary Nakhumincha was awarded Sh1m ($11,905) for bagging the coveted Dr. Whang Youn Dai Award for exemplifying the best spirit of the Paralympic Games.
“What Safaricom has done today is the kind of motivation our sportsmen need to go out of their way in training and performing for their nation at major events.
“We are delighted and this will inspire more of our athletes to work hard and perform for their nation,” Rudisha who captained the Kenyan Olympics team to London stated.
“I’m honoured with what I have received here today and it will go a long way in ensuring that I’m able to prepare for Rio 2016 and more companies should emulate this gesture,” Korir added.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said that awards are a token of appreciation for the time that the athletes have committed in training and sacrifice so as to make the country proud.
“I think it is time we all got together to find out how we can take our sportsmen to the next level.
“We need to work together with athletics bodies, with government to invest in facilities and programmes that help us develop strength in a wide range of athletics events such as sprints and short distance running,” added Collymore who pledged his firm would taking a leading role in encouraging the growth of sprinting and field sports in Kenya among corporates.
“There is no reason why Kenyans can’t sprint. We rely on the long distance but if you look at their performance at the Olympics, there were a few problems but since then, they have done fantastic.
“We have to broaden that and I believe that Kenyans can sprint and what we need is investment. Rudisha started out as a short distance runner,” the CEO stressed.
The Government and other firms are also in line to reward the top performers from both events in due cause.
Name Gold Silver Bronze Sport/Category
David Rudisha 2,000,000 800 m WR
Ezekiel Kemboi 1,000,000 3,000 m Steeplechase
Abel Kirui 600,000 Men Marathon
Vivian Cheruiyot 600,000 300,000 Women 5,000m and 10,000m
Priscah Jeptoo 600,000 Women Marathon
Sally Kipyego 600,000 Women 10,000 m
Wilson Kipsang 300,000 Men Marathon
Thomas Longosiwa 300,000 Men 5,000m
Timothy Kitum 300,000 Men 800 m
Abel Kiprop Mutai 300,000 Men 3,000 m Steeplechase
Gold Silver Bronze
Abraham Tarbei 2,000,000 300,000 1,500 m T46 category WR
Samuel Mushai 2,000,000 1,500 m T 11 category WR
James Boit (Guide) 2,000,000 1,500 m T 11 category WR
David Korir 2,400,000 1,500 m, T 12, 800 m T 12 WR, 2 Silver
Henry Kirwa 600,000 5,000 m WR
Mary Nakuminchia 1,000,000 Dr Whang Youn Dai Award