Athletics Athletics

Uhuru talks tough on Team Kenya’s mismanagement in Rio

President Uhuru Kenyatta handing over the flag to Team Kenya.
President Uhuru Kenyatta handing over the flag to Team Kenya at State House Nairobi before they departed for Rio de Janeiro

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22- As more members of the triumphant Kenyan team from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil jet back to the country, the apparent mismanagement of the team has attracted the interest of the highest office in the land, that of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In a statement welcoming the team back to the country, President Kenyatta warned that “questions must be answered” over the reports of the team’s mismanagement.

“The problems which frustrated many sports people on international assignment go a long way to erode incentives for our athletes to proudly turn up in Kenyan colours and win. They should be, and will be a thing of the past very shortly,” he said in a statement.

He added; “We will ensure that lessons are learnt, questions are answered, action is taken and full accountability achieved. Every Kenyan must take their responsibilities seriously and be ready to face the consequences of their actions.”

Kenya was faced with an international farce in Rio. First, Athletics team manager Michael Rotich was asked to return home after an investigation by British newspaper Sunday Times and German television channel ARD alleged he demanded money to give warnings about doping tests.

Sprints coach John Anzrah was then expelled from the Kenyan team in Rio after being found in possession of 800m athlete Ferguson Rotich’s accreditation by anti-doping officials who though he was the athlete when they pulled him up for a random test.

Sprinter Carvin Nkanata was denied entry into the Olympic village due to lack of an accreditation card as well as a Kenyan passport and had to travel back to his base in the US. However, after appealing, the 200m athlete travelled back to Rio on the day of his race and finished last in his heat.

President Uhuru Kenyatta taking a selfie with the Kenyan Olympics Team.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.
President Uhuru Kenyatta taking a selfie with the Kenyan Olympics Team at State House. NairobiPHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

Athletes have also complained over the inadequacy of training and racing kits with sponsor Nike saying they had given the National Olympic Committee of Kenya enough for all athletes.

Prior to the team’s travel to Rio, athletes almost refused to board the plane with javelin thrower Julius Yego missing a ticket. Earlier, Yego who went on to win Silver in Rio had also lamented that his coach would be leaving Rio before he competes due to a travel itinerary issued by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK).

This came even as it was alleged that NOCK officials handed tickets and games accreditation to cronies and relatives at the expense of coaches.

On Sunday evening, marathoner Wesley Korir, also the Cherangany Member of Parliament expressed his disgust of failing to finish the marathon race due to a stomach problem, saying there was a mix up during the 30km water point when he was handed compatriot Stanley Biwott’s endurance drink instead of his by Kenyan officials.

But despite the ups and downs surrounding the games, Kenya managed to finish 15th overall and top in Africa with a total of 13 medals, six silver, six gold and one bronze.

The Head of State who saw the team off at State House and urged them to do their best in Rio has congratulated them for their performance.

“For a country with a long and distinguished Olympic tradition, this is a truly remarkable feat. Kenya was challenged on many fronts, both on and off the track and field. By winning clean, competing joyfully and being a united national team, Team Kenya represented our uniting values and enabled the world to witness them in action,” President Kenyatta said.

“We appreciate the hard work, commitment, discipline and focus required to qualify for competition at the global elite level. Kenyan youth are not short of worthy role models as long as they watch our Olympians apply their ethics and values in transforming their lives,” he added.

He also congratulated naturalised Kenyans who won medals flying other countries’ flags, the biggest name on that list being Ruth Jebet who won gold for Bahrain in the 3000m steeplechase.

“It is clear that our talent, values and commitment to succeed have made a strong impression beyond our borders. We must congratulate them as well.” He offered.