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Big payday for London 2012 winners

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 27- Medallists at the forthcoming London Games will smile to the bank after the Kenyan Government promised handsome rewards for podium finishers on Wednesday.

The pledge was announced at a ceremony at State House, Nairobi where President Mwai Kibaki handed Team Kenya for London 2012 the national flag.

At the fete, National Olympics Committee of Kenya chairman, Dr. Kipchoge Keino announced communications service providers Safaricom will award London champions Sh1m with silver and bronze medallists receiving Sh600,000 ($7,059) and Sh300,000 ($3,529).

The Government paid out Sh750,000 ($8,824), Sh500,000 ($5,582) and Sh300,000 ($3,529) for the corresponding medals won at the Beijing Olympics in what was its richest payday for Kenyan medallists to date.

However, Sports Commissioner, Gordon Oluoch confirmed to Capital Sport on Wednesday evening that the State’s payout would not change meaning that potentially, a gold medallist will take home at least Sh1.75m ($20,588) in prize money.

“There was suggestion Government would review the amount upwards but for now, that will not be the case,” Oluoch confirmed.

He added that finalists at events who do not medal will be awarded a token of Sh20,000 for their efforts.

Kipchoge further disclosed that more corporate firms including Mabati Rolling Mills have also guaranteed hefty rewards for the class of London 2012 that is aiming to produce their best performance at the quadrennial global showpiece.

During the ceremony the Head of State interacted with selected members of the London 2012 squad as well as teams to Paralympics, Barcelona World Junior Championships in Athletics and Toronto Deaf World Athletics Championships who also received the flag.

President Kibaki urged the teams to focus on scooping as many medals as possible, saying victory will project Kenya’s supremacy in sports.

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“You will get fame and glory for both yourself and Kenya. I therefore, urge you to go for it and bring us that success.

“I know that qualifying for the Games is a very challenging task. Competing in them and winning a medal for your country is even tougher. I therefore, congratulate you for getting this far and we are confident that you will bring many medals at the end of the games,” he added.

While saluting heroes of the past, the Head of State stressed the nation was looking forward to a rich medal harvest from the squads given the duty to compete for honours.

“We look forward to the playing of the Kenyan national anthem as many times as possible during the various events.”

“These events symbolize excellence in sport. “We take great pride, as a nation, to compete in them,” President Kibaki expressed.

Meanwhile, world 800m record holder and champion, David Rudisha, has been appointed as the captain of Team Kenya for London 2012.

Speaking to Capital Sports, Joseph Kinyua, the athletics Team Leader, said the two-time African and Continental champion had been given the responsibility to lead the side to the Olympics as a motivational figure for his teammates,

“We decided Rudisha to play the role of captain since we believe he can inspire the team to great results and he has good relationship with his teammates who can learn from him both on and off the track,” Joseph Kinyua, the Team Leader for the athletics team for London told Capital Sport.

He disclosed that his assistant would be selected in due course.

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Swimming, boxing and weightlifting are the other sports Kenya will be represented at London in a contingent that is 53-member strong.

Mercy Obiero was the latest inclusion in the squad after the World weightlifting body granted her wild card entry to London on Tuesday.

Kenya won their best return at the Olympics in Beijing four years ago when the team won 6 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze, all obtained from the athletics team.

Brimin Kipruto (men steeplechase), Asbel Kiprop (men 1500m) and Pamela Jelimo (women 800m) are champions from Beijing returning to London.

(Updated with Commissioner for Sport confirmation)

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