They are due to represent the nation at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, the 10th CAA All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique and 2nd Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man, UK.
During the ceremony, the President urged them to maintain the country’s top position at the events they will be competing.
The Head of State had a special spot for world 800m record holder, David Rudisha, whom he called out to share a personal moment with him at the main dais after the official ceremony and photo session had elapsed.
“I call on them to keep the flag of our nation flying high at all times and keep the standard that Kenya has achieved. We are not going to let the country down since we are up already as we are competing with the great countries of the world and our performance cannot go down, it can only go up,” the Head of State said.
He added: “Every Kenyan is behind you. Everyone is expecting you to do particularly well since that will give us joy since it is now possible to follow what you are doing on television.”
President Kibaki reiterated the Government’s commitment towards making sports a full fledged industry that can create employment and income through the creation of an academy of excellence, infrastructural development and allocation of Sh330m to be shared by every constituency for development.
However, he expressed concern that delay in establishing the National Sports Lottery was denying sportspersons much needed funds to realise the Government’s vision.
“I wish to point it is depriving sports sector much needed funding and I hereby direct the Ministry of Youth and Sport to move expeditiously on this matter,” the Head of State said.
Speaking at the same fete, Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma, once again tore to the country’s football stating, “We are sending 20 out of the possible 21 teams to Maputo and it is my duty to inform we are participating in all other disciplines except in football.
“When we hosted the 4th edition of the All Africa Games in 1987, our national team were runners up during that edition and it is unfortunate that 24 years down the line, we cannot put a football team.”
He disclosed his ministry was planning to hire more sports officers to inspire professionalism at grassroots level to guide talent in their development as well as an aggressive programme on improving sports facilities.
Last week, the minister gave the Independent Electoral Board a September 10 ultimatum to hold Football Kenya elections or the Government would step in the process as the country seeks a remedy to the deplorable standards of the game.
National Olympics Committee of Kenya chairman and retired Olympics legend, Kipchoge Keino said, “We are honoured to have a Government that inspires us to do well in sport. We want all these teams to go out there and do well since they are a gift to this nation.”
Kenya will be represented by 400 competitors, the largest contingent ever to travel to the All Africa Games that run from September 1 to 13 with another 48 travelling to Daegu on Monday for the World Championships.
The country will have representation in five disciplines, athletics (ten), badminton (two), boxing (three), cycling (three) and swimmers (two) for a total of 20 at the Commonwealth Youth Games that will run from September 7 to 13.