SOYA urged to expand scope

November 26, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 26 – Top athletes want Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) organisers to consider branches when awarding the federation of the year category.

World 3,000 metres outdoor and indoor record holder, Daniel Komen and former world champion 5,000m champion, Benjamin Limo said the exercise needs to be taken to the grass-roots as some branches were more active than the parent bodies.

“If you have to award the best federation, you need to go down to the grassroots. There are no two ways about it,” said Komen adding that the parent bodies were taking credit at the expense of the branches.

Komen said branches need to be encouraged through such awards if they are to intensify their search for talent. “The national bodies only benefit from our efforts. How often do national officials bother to find out how their branches are doing apart from attending high profile functions organised by the branch officials?” he asked.

While supporting Komen’s sentiments, Limo said the same system should be applied on the newly introduced Coaches Awards. He said focusing on national coaches alone was bound to affect performance.

“We really don’t need to focus on the national coaches alone. There are many coaches at the grassroots, who are doing more than you can imagine,” he said.

He said all the runners who perform internationally have coaches at the grassroots, who should be considered for the top awards.  “It’s obvious that one can’t perform by merely training with the national coach for barely three weeks,” he noted.

He said there are coaches at the grass-root level, who toil with runners for months before putting them in that winning-stead. National coaches just perfect the act even though athletes continue to consult their coaches even when they are in national camps,” said Limo.

Limo cited Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo as an example, saying the coach who matters in her life is not the national coach but the one, who handled her at the grassroot level.

“If it was not for her coach back at home, perhaps Jelimo would still be struggling in the 400m. But this very coach saw her potential and impressed on her to switch to the 800m,” he said.

Speaking in a separate interview, veteran long distance runner Tegla Loroupe called for support for the SOYA Awards.

Loroupe who sponsored the inaugural SOYA Most Promising Athlete Award through her foundation urged other top runners to support the Awards both materially and financially.

She praised SOYA founder Paul Tergat for the initiative adding that she was looking into how to personally resume her support for the Awards.



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