NAIROBI, Kenya, August 10- The medal hunt at the 13th IAAF World Championships (August 27- October 4) was officially launched on Wednesday as Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma opened the team’s training camp.
Only world 800m record holder, David Rudisha was missing from the camp as the Government announced its biggest ever grant to a Worlds team, Sh27m with monetary rewards for top athletes, finalists and officials also disclosed.
“The Government is committed to pay for each gold medal Sh300,000, silver Sh200,000, the bronze medal Sh100,000 and those who will be finalists, Sh10,000 each. For team sports, the gold medal will be Sh50,000 each, silver Sh30,000 each and bronze 20,000 each,” Otuoma declared.
He added: “The ministry has provided Sh27m shillings to meet the expenses for the team. Let the sense of patriotism inspire you since as much as we are doing this, we know it that patriotism that you are representing all of us,
“Every time you win and our national anthem is played, people recognise Kenya.”
Otuoma stated the rewards scheme would be expanded to take the form of a pension scheme for the athletes to give them financial security in the future.
“Athletics career is very brutal since after 30 years, the ability goes down and we intend through the Sports Bill to ensure that some of the proceeds from the sports lottery will be set aside for something to be paid to these champions when they retire.”
He urged the squad to continue its dominance at distance events especially the men 3000m steeplechase race that has become synonymous with Kenya as he welcomed the inclusion of the 4X400m men relay team.
“Our comeback must be felt in that race and there is hope for gold in the relay just like in the past. Go for what Kenya is known for and bring more gold medals.”
The minister announced his assistant; Kabando wa Kabando will lead five government officials seconded for the Daegu Worlds.
“We hope that this team will flow over to the forthcoming All Africa Games in Maputo as well as next year’s Olympics Games that are just around the corner.”
The minister echoed the call made earlier by his assistant, Kabando for institutions such as Kenya Tourist Board, Film Corporation of Kenya, Brand Kenya and national carrier, Kenya Airways, to engage the athletes more in marketing the country.
“These young men and women are undervalued. The advertising value their success brings cannot be paid through the Kenyan budget. I’m trying to make sure the sports industry attains its value so that the athletes can earn what they deserve.”
Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat stated, “We want this team to produce good results. Unfortunately our national carrier is charging us twice as much as other airlines who are giving us rebates.
“We will travel together since there are limited flights to Daegu and all airlines are full. Even Members of Parliament who wanted to travel have no seats or accommodation. We are trying to make changes to allow some athletes to travel later than others but let’s all accept it could not happen.”
He was responding to concerns raised by some athletes whose competition is later such as the men’s marathon who will compete on the last day (September 4) to travel much later.
Kiplagat trashed claims that Kenyan athletes had misbehaved at the residential camp at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
“The IAAF wrote us a letter saying some of our runners had been rowdy but when we replied to them to give us the specific cases, they could not and I feel this could be brought by our success. This time, let’s go there and do better to make them even more upset,” he charged.