Athletics Athletics

Team returns from London horror show


NAIROBI, Kenya, August 14- Ahead of Team Kenya’s arrival from London 2012 on Wednesday, the inquest into the lacklustre performance in the 30th Olympiad is well underway.

Even before the probe ordered by Prime Minister, Raila Odinga who was in London to observe the dying embers of the team’s deflated charge as well as Sport Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma, who had a ring side seat for the Games gets underway, the buck passing has started in earnest.

Team Kenya is set to arrive without most of the 55-strong competitive contingent that departed for London on diverse dates with high hopes they would surpass the Beijing tally of 6 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze that survived as the record performance at the quadrennial showpiece.

At the epicentre of the decay that led to arguably the most talented squad ever sent for the Olympics failing in spectacular fashion is the pitched brawl between the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock) and Athletics Kenya (AK).

Much has been said on the wrangles between the two governing bodies that is said to have created the poisoned environment for the distance running stars who despite ruling the globe for the past two seasons, could not find the feet to impose themselves in London.

“Like other countries, we should have Olympians accompanying the team and coaches should be selected in the proper manner,” the Sydney 2000 men 1500m champion, Noah Ngeny, who was among Kenyans who watched in horror as the class of 2012 shockingly surrendered the metric mile final said.

“It is clear Asbel (Kiprop) was injured but the other two (Nixon Chepseba and Silas Kiplagat) lacked the experience and guidance and unfortunately, this was not only in the men 1500m team,” the 3:32.07 Olympics record holder added.

Ngeny, the Athletes’ Representative at AK, cited the appointment of one of the coaches for London 2012, Bruce Laati as an evident case in the management morass that cost the country.

“In February, he was appointed as a coach for the Africa Cross Country team which is not a problem.

“In April, he was again seconded to Eldoret as a long distance coach before he travelled to London as a sprints coach. These are some of the things we should investigate,” he told Capital Sport.

“The probe called by the Prime Minister and the Sports Minister will mean nothing if we do not concentrate on the composition of Nock. How can we have officials from handball, Judo, Tae Kwon Do and Softball handling a team of mainly athletes?

“Do they know what is best for runners, including what they need for training and to be psyched for competition? We are the only country that did not involve Olympians in the team,” he stormed.

He was pinpointing the Team Kenya CEO, Stephen Soi (Judo), General Team Manager, James Chacha (Tae Kwon Do), Nock secretary F K Paul (Handball) and Nock treasurer Fridah Shiroya (Softball) who played prominent roles in running of London 2012.

“Where are their sports? They do not have programmes for their sports and some could not send their team to African qualifiers let alone qualify for the Olympics. They are taking advantage of athletics to be travelling to Olympics,” the Olympics record holder charged.

When contacted, AK boss, Isaiah Kiplagat who arrived from London on Monday declined to comment on the subject.

“The team is returning tomorrow (Wednesday) and we shall say all we have to say then. For now, I do not want to say anything,” he added.

Capital Sports understand he was to convene a meeting later Tuesday to fashion a federation response to the failure of the track and field team that until June 23 when AK conducted the final Olympics Trials, were under the federation.

The federation’s role in the preparation of the runners has also been called into question, with their selection of the men 10000m at the June 2 Trials at Pre Fontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon that failed to yield a first gold medal in 44 years in London the sticking point.

Besides, queries of whether the coaches or officials tied to AK concealed injuries to key athletes such as African 10000m champion, Wilson Kiprop and the Beijing men 1500m gold medallist, Asbel Kiprop also abound.

While Nock mandarins, especially Soi and Chacha have taken most of the flak over the disappointing performance, the responsibility of Kipchoge Keino, the revered father of Kenyan athletics who is the committees’ boss in the fiasco has this far remained beyond reproach.

Whether it is due to the reverence the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and twice Olympics champion is held locally and abroad, Dr. Keino has survived much of the heat despite the fact he is at the helm of the body in charge of Team Kenya at London 2012.

His prominent duty in signing with the UK city of Bristol the pre-London 2012 training camp that sparked protests among distance athletes as well as his apparent refusal to reign in his over bearing juniors needs explanation.

Will Kenya ever get an answer to who forced Kiprop, who was clearly injured, to race the men 1500m final despite his wish to withdraw and save the world the disgrace of watching a champion jog thorough his title defence?

How about the reported mal-treatment of a grieving women steeplechase hopeful, Milcah Chemos or double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot at the Olympics Village?

To the riddle add how comes Kenyans were beaten to the gold by Mo Farah (Britain), Tawfiq Makhloufi (Algeria) and Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) who trained in Iten where most of our runners are based?

London 2012 was a conspicuous manifestation of how we have sold our souls to the devil.