Celebrate heroes but for the love of sports fix Commonwealth mess

By evelyn watta
Aug 04, 2021
  • Caleb Ndiku celibates his 5000m win at the Hampden park stadium in Glasgow.

GLASGOW, It is time to take stock of the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and interrogate messes which dogged the outing.

We are a nation united yet deluded in the ‘accept and move-on’ mantra.

That is why we shall warmly clasp onto the 10 gold medals that we won at the Hampden Park, shine the silvers and polish the bronze as we await the next games as if nothing bad happened.

Unlike the Nigerians whose kit arrived two days before the games ended last Friday there is balm for their medalists when they get home some $7000(Ksh. 613 000) for the gold winners down to $ 3,000 (Ksh263 000) for the bronze holders.

For the 25 Kenyan medalists, lavish praises awaits as we will routinely forget the kitting and allowance woes as water under the bridge.

The target was simple for Glasgow. To improve on the 12 gold medals from the last edition of the games.

We didn’t achieve the feat but certainly Julius Yego’s gold shocker in the men’s javelin should make up for what our neigbour Moses Kipsiro took away from us in the 10000m race and the awkward defeat in the men’s marathon, the rainy cold conditions certainly didn’t just suit our runners!

“We didn’t get the best of our runners here because most of the marathoners had their programs drawn to race in the city marathons where they earn the money. It was very hard to convince them to come here to run for free yet this is their livelihood,” reasoned Athletics Kenya Vice President Paul Mutwii who was the head of the track and field delegation.

“We have lost top runners to the road race and marathons,” he continued but that doesn’t justify the finish line loss to the canny Ugandan Moses Kipsiro in the 10k race. That boils down to tactics!"

“It is time as AK we looked into remuneration for marathoners to compensate if we cannot match at least what they would earn by forfeiting a city marathon to run for the national team where there is no money but a brilliant idea, documented for records.

 With London just next door the Olympics kitting fiasco quickly rubbed off on their UK neighbors Glasgow for team Kenya. 

Kitting mess

You see the delay was inevitable even after ordering the kits from Nike impressively last year.

The routine old annoying paperwork hoping to get the government waivers on sporting equipment was apparently to blame again. In the end the waiver cost Ksh.6.5 million paid as demurrage! 

As the kits was sent to Glasgow in bits meaning proper training gear, rely on spikes from a patriotic AK official who stepped in to save the situation while the Kenya Rugby Union will be grateful that they had their standby Samurai kits in Scotland which ended up being the playing kits.

The Nike kits were rejected by the organisers who had concerns with many of team Kenya’s kits that were also missing the mandatory games logo.

“I will not be afraid to say that one of the problems that really bothered the athletes were the kits. Infact we were worried about the spikes and it is a well-wisher the AK Nairobi branch chairman Barnabas Korir who stepped in and donated about 25 pairs of spikes for our athletes. It is a known fact some of the field athletes didn’t even have the proper kitting,” Mutwii pointed out. 

"We had a big mess up with the arrival of the competition kits but it's because the process of clearing took longer and in the end we got the waiver we were seeking but had to pay high demurrage fees money that that could have been invested in sports. We have learnt a lesson when we do our postmortem one of the key things is that we must have the kits cleared and checked at least six months before,” Stephen Soi, the Chef de Mission of team Kenya asserted.

There are no guarantees though. And with such a sympathetic and trusting media who will put them to task and stake stock of the grandiose promises?

Remember the much-hyped London Olympics report that ruffled feathers? How can you remember something that never was released?

“We were keen on paying athletes as promised half before departure and the other half after but there were challenges with the main sponsor of the games, the Government. There were some factors that were ignored like for instance the tough restrictions on money transfers and in the end we had to engage private cash and delivery firms,” Soi revealed.

Women on the rise 

Back to the sport, African, Kenyan women soared. From the 10 gold medals six of the medals were won by Kenyan women, a repeated trend from the world championships and even the Olympics where female track and field athletes outshined their male counterparts.

The women carried on Kenya’s dominance in the 800m, 1500m, the steeplechase, 5000m, 10000 and even the marathon. 

Yego’s golden throw may have eased the pain of a nation still smarting from the defeat of their king David Rudisha by the boldly talented Nigel Amos but not the humiliation of the marathon defeat.

Kenya’s stylish boxers

The 11 Kenyan boxers may not have matched the success of Delhi where the team won silver and three bronze medals but there was a marked improvement in the boxers’ tactics.

Stylish, fantastic counter attacks and smart guards. It was thrilling watching bronze medalist Benson Gicharu adopt the clever peak-a-boo style as he punched some incisive hooks that smartly carried him to the semifinals of the bantam weight.

“Yes we didn’t achieve the target of winning at least five or six medals but as a coach I was impressed with the level of play the boxers displayed here. They were called the stylish boxers with excellent footwork and very intelligent boxers not fighters,” noted Peter Waweru one of the coaches who handled the team in Glasglow.

Glasgow,wake up call for Kenya 7

Commonwealth Games was to be the icing on the cake for the national seven-a-side team after mixed luck in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series and the World Cup Sevens in Russia. Under Paul Treu, one of the best brains in the shorter version of the game, Kenya was expected to flourish after finishing fifth the previous season under Mike Friday.

In Glasgow, there were hopes of a podium finish but even Treu noticed something was not clicking and identified nondescript mistakes among the players. Kenya a mix of youth and experience appeared to be no match for well-organized sides that exploited the weak link between the halfback and the out half.

At contact points, Kenya which has always been known for running rugby were outmuscled whenever they engaged the other team in contact. The performance, disappointing!

Hard to put a finger to the 7s problem. Kenya since lost the flair and are not the running team which has endeared themselves to thousands and 43 million Kenyans. Kenya’s game has become more physical perhaps could be the coaching styles which has inhibited the natural flair.

Baby steps for Contact and racquet sports

The exposure granted the contact sports paid off with some of the wrestlers and judo fighting their ways past the preliminaries.There was also some eagerness to better expectations in Table Tennis and Badminton with some notable wins in the individual and team events.

With the All Africa games around the corner it will be a good chance to carry on the fight for Olympic tickets as teams march on to Gold coast 2018 for the Commonwealth.

Time to draw on the successes, learn the lessons act on the recommendations and order the kits for the Congo Brazzaville All African Games.