NAIROBI, Kenya, July 28- Kenya took her pride of place at the 30th Olympiad when Commonwealth Games champion swimmer, Jason Dunford, majestically bore the flag to the imposing London Olympics Stadium during the team’s march past.
It was a crowning moment for the 25-year-old who is bidding to be the first from his nation to fish a medal from the Aquatic Centre when he dives in for the start of 100m Butterfly heats on Tuesday afternoon.
Besides him dressed in all-white was young cancer survivor, Rose Nasimiyu, 10, who captivated the nation in stunning fashion when she took to the public to bravely express her plight last year, making her an adored celebrity as well as a brave face in the fight against the scourge.
Now residing in the UK following a massive fund raising effort to ensure she continued being a symbol of hope, her lining up alongside the small contingent of the 55-strong competing squad and a number of officials as Team Kenya paraded past was a fitting sub-plot to the spectacular ceremony that dazzled in its magnificence.
Among the heads of state and government watching the Danny Boyle directed spectacular that stretched every imagination in its brilliance was President Mwai Kibaki, who was gracing the Games for his first time. He was among those moved to tears by Nasimiyu’s story when the cancer heroine gained audience with him.
Back at home, selected invitees were treated to the Move to the Beat Kenyan Olympic anthem sponsored by Coca-Cola at a Nairobi hotel where they later on got the chance to sit back and marvel at the opening ceremony that cost a princely Sh3.618 billion (27m pounds), a figure enough to buy approximately 180.9 million 300ml bottles of the product locally!
Country Manager, Rocky Findley said they organized the experience to reinforce their commitment to the sporting spirit in the country besides motivating Kenyans to watch the country embark on conquering the world.
“Olympics is a big event for Kenya through the medal haul we achieve in the end hence the need to be part of it and bring alive the excitement,” he added in between servings of musical performances at the glitzy affair held at a Nairobi hotel.
Two upcoming artists, Juliet Karanja (aka Sign) and Collins Okoth (aka Colla Boy) were joined by rapper/producer Madtraxx on stage to the delight of the crowd to perform the anthem released after nearly two months of searching, auditioning and production courtesy of the company.
The manager announced that besides the Sh5m contribution they made to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, they will host a luncheon for the athletes on their return after completion of the games in August.
Fans at the function expressed their confidence in the class of 2012 who will embark on surpassing the Beijing Olympics medal tally of six gold, four silver and four bronze at the London showpiece.
All but six of the remaining members of Team Kenya will depart on Monday, including captains world record holder David Rudisha and Olympic gold medallist Pamela Jelimo who Dunford stood brief for during the opening ceremony.
Men marathoners, Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui and Emmanuel Mutai in addition to the 5000m men line-up of Isaiah Kiplangat Koech, Edwin Soi and Thomas Longosiwa will join their teammates on August 7.
Flyweight boxer, Benson Mucharu will be the first of the red, green and black exponents to showcase talent at London 2012 when the round of 32 action gets underway on Monday. He won Commonwealth Games
The gold rush can now begin!
By Tony Kariuki