NAIROBI, Kenya, July 19 – The 2012 Boston Marathon champion and Member of Parliament for Cherengany, Wesley Korir, has sponsored a motion seeking the Government to establish a register or other mode of tracking and accounting for all athletes who leave the country to attend various international events to ensure their safety.
Korir, who finished fifth in his title defence in April in becoming Kenya’s first elected leader to participate in an international marathon, said he was deeply concerned that there was no mechanism available to account for the safety and well-being of Kenyan runners participating in events overseas.
“The world has changed where by terrorism has become the order of the day and now they are targeting sports, they are targeting athletics, marathoners. We need to make sure that when our athletes leave our country we secure their safety through a mechanism that can ensure we can account for them,” he said.
The former Boston Marathon winner said the motion is trigged by the tragic events that occurred at the this year’s event where two bombs went off, killing three and injuring scores others close to the finish line.
Korir was among the 10 Kenyan athletes participating and he decried there was no established network of reporting to confirm their status to their families back home.
Moments after the blast, Kenya’s ambassador to the US told media houses to inquire on the status of the local contingent that he was not aware of any Kenyans being wounded in the blasts.
Korir told the House of his fear after hearing of the deadly blasts that went off two hours after the winners had completed the race.
If this had happened two hours earlier, maybe I would have been among the victims,” he added confirming he had been celebrating Rita Jeptoo’s victory in the women’s race in the moments leading to the explosions.
Other Members who contributed to the motion said the country must put measures in place to recognize that athletes are the greatest assets the country has
“The government has to make sure that our athletes are protected at all times so that when they leave this country they are assured of their safety,” Korir stressed.
Turbo MP Jeremiah Busienei lamented that it was sad that the Ministry of Sports and Arts does know the number of Kenyan athletes and other sportsperson who have left the country to participate in various sporting assignments.
Another former Boston Marathon titleholder (2000) and fellow parliamentarian, Elijah Lagat (Emgwen) added; “I have a lot of people who have come to me, some parents looking for their children who left this country a couple of years ago and they never came back. Some of them have been told that their children died while running but there is no way that this government can tell them where their children go.”
-Story by Laban Wanambisi