International Paralympics committee slams government failure to support Kenya team

By evelyn watta
Oct 22, 2015

The International Paralympics Committee, IPC has reacted to the governments last minute failure to support the Kenya track and field team to the ongoing world championships in Doha, terming it a “grave mistake” and “shameful” decision.

The Kenya Paralympics team was forced to withdraw from the IPC world championships which began on Thursday at the Qatar Sports club in Doha after the government turned down their request for ticket and accommodation at the biennial event.

The Kenya Paralympics team was expected to travel to Doha on Wednesday. The Sports Ministry was unable to make provision for the team’s Ksh.8 million appeal as the Government could not afford to fund team.

There have been reports that the Kenyan government is cash- strapped as pay-outs have delayed. But the IPC Media Communications Director Craig Spence regretted Kenya’s absence from the world championships coming in the wake of the exceptional performance by the nation’s athletes at the world championships in Beijing where the country topped the medal standings.

“It is a real shame that Kenya is not here to compete and test themselves against the best in the world ahead of the Rio Olympics. I hope the government will realise the grave mistake they have made by failing to support its athletes who are some of the best in the world when it comes to track and field,” Spense told in Doha after the morning session on Thursday that also witnessed the first world record of the World Championships from Great Britain’s Kadeena Cox who won the women’s 100m T37 heats in 13.59.

Missed opportunity

He regretted that the Kenyan team which included world record holder Samuel Muchai in the men’s T11, missed a great opportunity not only to qualify and prepare for the Rio Olympics, but also to improve on their timings.

“The Government needs to realise that it’s athletes have missed a great opportunity to test themselves against the world’s best and also a great moment to represent the country which comes so soon after the world championships where Kenyan runners did very well. I hope they can change their attitudes and perception and accord the Paralympic team equal support as they accord the abled athletes.”

Spense hopes that the government will be able to send the team for at least one of the eight qualifying events that will be held across the globe with Tunisia yet again set to host the African round after the continental championships last March.

“We have eight more athletics qualifying rounds and we hope that the Kenyans can qualify at one of these and not wait for the wild cards. We at IPC with the support of the Local Organising Committees try to support some of the athletes’ travel, but we depend more on governments’ support for their teams.”

The Kenya Paralympics Committee Chair Agnes Oluoch relieved that there could be another chance of qualification after Doha, said they would immediately embark on fundraising for the continental qualifiers, but was more concerned about reassuring the dejected athletes who had been training for months.

The IPC Athletics world championships ends on October 31.