NAIROBI, Kenya, August 15- It was all song and dance as Team Kenya from London 2012 arrived back to the country on Wednesday morning although the various facets of the squad were not dancing to the same tune.
With most of the athletes who took part in the action either having arrived earlier or remaining behind in Europe for the Samsung Diamond League competition, only three medallists, all in the marathon were at hand to parade their prizes to a large crowd of family, relatives and friends who braved the morning chill to welcome them back home.
Men’s marathon silver winner, Abel Kirui and bronze medallist, Wilson Kiprop as well as Priscah Jeptoo who bagged marathon women silver were the three of the 11 podium finishers from London who checked in.
Other prominent athletes who arrived were the Beijing Olympics titleholder and assistant team captain, Pamela Jelimo, silver medallist at the same event, Janeth Jepkosgei and Julius Yego, the first African to compete at the men Javelin finals at the Olympics.
The official reception was graced by Vice-President, Kalonzo Musyoka who took cue from the Minister for Sport, Dr. Paul Otuoma and the team’s top brass in lauding the performance that saw Kenya bag 11 medals, 2 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze in London.
“The team did their best and as a nation, we are proud of what they have achieved in London despite all the reports in the media. We are committed to ensuring that we continue offering them support for future events,” the Vice-President who will travel to the London Paralympics noted.
The Minister for Sport, Dr. Paul Otuoma promised the report into London 2012 Olympics would be made public after an inquest into the performance that left many Kenyans deflated.
“This time, I want to state that we shall not hide anything. When the report is prepared, we shall release it and I have already made instructions that what happened in London should be brought out for all to see,” he stressed.
National Olympics Committee- Kenya (Nock) hierarchy led by the chair and retired two-time Olympics winner, Kipchoge Keino, launched a charm offensive to exonerate themselves from blame in a performance that by and large, disappointed the nation.
The respected father of Kenyan athletics and International Olympics Committee (IOC) council member went as far as denying he placed a curse on the team when he shed his tears on their arrival in London in addition to demanding an apology from the reporter who suggested the same.
“I shed tears of joy upon seeing them arrive because of the songs the patriotic songs dancers brought by Brand Kenya were singing. I did not curse the team and whoever said that should apologise,” Dr Keino stated.
“We need to work hard and prepare for the next Games from now since the competition is tough. We have learned lessons from London and we shall ensure they are all taken in but we are proud of the performance,” he added.
There was no sight of the much maligned Nock executive officer and Team Kenya London 2012 CEO, Stephen Arap Soi who was the subject of much of the criticism levelled against the management of the team.
Before the pleasantries were exchanged at the official reception, athletics head coach, Julius Kirwa; laid bare the circumstances he believed led to the much talented and seasoned runners under his charge failed to spark at the Games where Kenyan finished third in Africa behind South Africa and archrivals Ethiopia besides ending 28th on the overall medals table.
“I will be honest; I have never seen anything like what we went through as a team since the final trials were held on June 23. Everyday, we were forced to bring the team together and I cannot blame the athletes.
“Unless Nock and Athletics Kenya (AK) end their wars, this country will not go anywhere. Already, they are blaming the coaches since it is the easy way out but I want to tell even those who come after me that this is not the correct way to handle our team,” the veteran coach who took over national duties in 2002 charged before storming out of the reception accompanied by his assistants, David Letting and Sammy Rono.