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Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed alongside Kisii Senator and former Athletics Kenya chairman Sam Ongeri during the Athletics Kenya 70th anniversary. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

Athletics

Senator Ongeri celebrated for his contribution to Athletics as AK turns 70

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Kisii Senator and former athletics federation chairman Professor Sam Ongeri was celebrated by legendary Kipchoge Keino during the Athletics Kenya (AK) 70 years celebrations on Tuesday at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Ongeri, who was at the helm of the federation from 1974-1984, is credited for having been the Team Kenya doctor when Kenya participated in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany and the second All Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria in 1973.

Ongeri as a doctor he handled Kenya’s athletics icons including the legendary Hezekiah Kipchoge Keino, Ben Jipcho, the late Robert Ouko, Nyantika Maiyoro and Tecla Sang Chemabwai.

“I acknowledge that Ongeri was my doctor when competing internationally in the early 70s and is part of my success, said the legendary Kipchoge Keino.

“As we celebrate our heroes we acknowledge the role played by Senator Ongeri for his role as a doctor and for attending to our pioneer athletes. I therefore declare Prof Ongeri to be recognized as the team doctor of Athletics Kenya at 70,” declared AK president Jackson Tuwei.

Sports CS Amina Mohamed leads in cutting the cake during Athletics Kenya 70th anniversary. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

The Senator rose to take over the reins of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) as the chairman in 1974 till 1984.

During the occasion, it emerged that Ongeri was the founder of the construction of the Nyayo National Stadium.

“After Kenya failed to participate in the 1976 and 1970 Olympic Games in Montreal and Moscow respectively I asked the then Kenya’s Head of state President Daniel Arap Moi to give us that money that was not used utilized for athletics infrastructure development by setting up this facility based at the Nyayo National Stadium,” Ongeri said.

Ongeri said President Moi accepted the release of the funds which opened for the construction of the Nyayo National Stadium which stood on the land donated by the pioneer Athletics federation (KAAA) Secretary General Archie Evans.

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Speaking during the Athletics Kenya (AK) at 70 celebrations, Senator Ongeri said the stadium which they surrendered to the Kenyan government was named Nyayo in honour of President where Nyayo means footsteps.

“We were following in the footsteps of President Moi and that’s why we thought it wise to name it Nyayo,” he said.

The country’s glory internationally is catalysed by Kenya’s national team being picked by AK at the Nyayo National Stadium for many years since the facility became operational.

Ongeri said that they later through President Moi travelled to China and negotiated for the construction of the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. 

“Our vision was for the establishment of ultra-modern facilities countrywide to promote sports,” said Ongeri.

Athletics legends during the Athletics Kenya 70th anniversary. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

-Mandago on Kip Keino Stadium-

During the occasion, in his speech, the Uasin Gishu County Governor Jackson Mandago asked the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to allow his administration to forcibly remove the contractor working on works at the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret.

“The contractor is not doing a good job by delaying works on the stadium. We feel that the company is incompetent and needs to be evicted,” said Mandagor.

The celebrations was graced by Kenya’s pioneer athletes who represented and brought glory to the country since Kenya started taking part in international and continental events in 1956.

-Mandago on Kip Keino Stadium-

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During the occasion, in his speech, the Uasin Gishu County Governor Jackson Mandago asked the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to allow his administration to forcibly remove the contractor working on works at the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret.

“The contractor is not doing a good job by delaying works on the stadium. We feel that the company is incompetent and needs to be evicted,” said Mandagor.

The celebrations was graced by Kenya’s pioneer athletes who represented and brought glory to the country since Kenya started taking part in international and continental events in 1956.

Kenya’s Cross Country legends Paul Tergat (Right) and John Ngugi (Left). Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

-Athletics Kenya history-

Athletics in Kenya was first governed as Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) from 1951 until 2002 when the organisation changed the name to Athletics Kenya (AK).

Archie Evans is credited with starting organised athletics and forming KAAA in 1951. Evans became the secretary of the newly formed KAAA, while Derek Erskine became its first chairman.

The association was formed as a requirement in any country wishing to send athletes to international competitions, especially the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

Following the formation of KAAA, Kenya was represented for the first time in the 5th edition of British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1954 and subsequent championships.

The association changed its name to Athletics Kenya (AK) in 2002, the current governing body of the sport in Kenya, whose current president is Jackson Tuwei.

Others who served as AK chairmen and later presidents are Musembi Mbathi (1964–1968), Bartonjo Rotich (1968–1972), Charles Mukora (1972–1974), Sam Ongeri (1974–1984), Paul Boit (1984–1992) and Isaiah Kiplagat (1992-2016).

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