Athletics Athletics

Kibaki, Raila for London 2012 Olympics


NAIROBI, Kenya, June 26- President Mwai Kibaki will attend the opening ceremony while Prime Minister, Raila Odinga is set to grace the closing fete of the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics in a mighty show of support for Team Kenya.

At a farewell dinner for the team hosted by Proctor & Gamble on Tuesday night, Odinga who was the guest of honour confirmed the country’s two principals will also witness part of the competitive action as he exuded confidence the class of 2012 would return Kenya’s best performance at the games yet.

“We are going to come with the President and we have agreed the President will come for opening of the Olympics and be there for the first part. I will come in the middle and will be there until the closing ceremony,” Odinga announced.

“I want to be there to see the Kenyan flag going up and then to sing the national anthem while you are there on stage,” the premier added.

In his address to the team that included world men 800m record holder, David Rudisha, who is one of Kenya’s biggest gold medal hopes at the event that runs from July 27 to August 12, Odinga extolled on the squad to uphold Kenya’s chequered record at the biggest sporting show piece.

“The flag you are carrying is a great flag that enjoys great respect and you have the honour of carrying it. We are all behind you, when you will be running, you will be running on behalf of all of us.

“What you are doing there is inspiring people in several other fields; inspiring people to believe we can do it as Kenyans. If athletes can beat the world in the field, we can also beat the world in other areas, economically, poverty, ignorance and diseases,” Odinga urged.

And in personal tribute to Rudisha, the world, Continental and two time African titleholder, the Prime Minister called on the 1:41.01 standard bearer in the men two-lap race to follow in the footsteps of his father, Daniel.

“When I saw David here, it reminded me of his father, Daniel Rudisha, one of the best 400m runners Kenya has ever produced. In Mexico 1968 Kenya got a silver medal in the 4X400m relay and the anchorman was Daniel Rudisha.

“He ran so fast chasing the famous Lee Evans who was the anchorman of the American team. Kenyans got silver in 400m and in Munich (1972) got gold,” he stated to the bewilderment of the signature runner who earlier, delivered a moving tribute to his mother.

Odinga promised new sports facilities in all 47 counties in the forthcoming dispensation in the country following the adoption of the new constitution after the next general election.

“We need to have proper facilities so that we can tap talent. I’m pleased we are venturing in other sports in the Olympics such as swimming and boxing,” he added.

“Olympics are the most sporting event in history so to go compete and win a medal is a great thing. In Mexico, American runners John Carlos and Tommy Smith when running the 200m, raised the Black Power because they got censured by their government,” Odinga noted.

In his speech, Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma hailed the class of 2012 as one of the best squads ever assembled for the Games.

“We are also aware the rest of the world is not asleep. We know our competitors are trying to produce the best so let us not to go to sleep, our coaches, managers and those given responsibility to train this team and guide them.

“Do your patriotic duty as Kenyans and let us concentrate because the ultimate sporting achievement for any sportsperson is the Olympics. Let us forget anything else, let us not have any sideshows and concentrate on doing proud and conquer London,” he stressed.

National Olympics Committee chairman, Kipchoge Keino, confirmed that a female weightlifter had been admitted to Team Kenya raising the number to 53.

President Kibaki will hand the national flag to the team on Wednesday at State House, Nairobi.

World Half marathon champion, Wilson Kiprop, All Africa Games silver winner, Bedan Karoki (men 10000m), former World Youth 800m gold medallist, Winnie Chebet, Commonwealth flyweight silver medallist, Ben Gicharu and female middleweight boxer, Elizabeth Ondiego were among other members of Team Kenya for London 2012 present at the dinner.