Jason Dunford sets eye on newer challenges

By eric odanga
Nov 28, 2017
  • Dunford shares memories with his former physical therapist Mac Parish. (Photo by Eric Odanga)

  • Dunford completes his studies at the Graduate School of Business next year. (Photo by Eric Odanga)

  • Very patriotic, Dunford had a Kenyan flag during the interview. (Photo by Eric Odanga)

Olympian, Jason Dunford who won a gold medal in the men’s 50 meters butterfly at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi India has his eyes set on newer challenges.

Dunford confirmed he is fully retired even with the lure of an Olympic medal next year in Tokyo, Japan and Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

“Yes. Fully retired and on to new things,” Dunford told Sports News Arena at Stanford University where he is pursuing an MBA at the Graduate School of Business.

Next year, Dunford intends to return to Kenya and hinted he would be glad to play a role in developing the next generation of swimmers by giving motivational talks where future swimmers can learn from his success and mistakes.

“I am in the loop with Kenya swimming. There are some very promising young swimmers rising up now and I hope to get more fully involved when I am based back home starting next year,” Dunford acknowledges.

Who knows? The decorated swimmer who was Kenya’s Olympic flag bearer in London in 2012 may inspire a future swimmer to the familiar path he trod.

His experience gained at Stanford University is not mythical but a result of hard work by using basic equipment. Dunford took SNA on a tour of the facilities at the University.

Although he still swims, Dunford has diversified into environment and media drawing from a tough training regimen in the swimming pool.

He was in Kenya a few months ago and was the chief guest at the Kenya Tennis Open. Dunford also interviewed Homeboyz and Kenya rugby backrow Joshua Chisanga after Kenya played against Hong Kong.

“With regards to swimming, I still keep in the loop and see there are some very promising young swimmers rising up now and I hope to get more fully involved when I am based back home starting next year," he states.

Smaller disciplines

It is inevitable that Dunford talks about sports management in Kenya with a focus on the ‘smaller’ disciplines.

“For the smaller disciplines, there needs to be improved governance and accountability in order for the sports to grow. Mismanagement is problematic and holds back the development of all sports, but particularly the smaller ones since they don’t necessarily have the budgets of the larger ones, so each shilling is even more important. Thus if the shillings end up in places other than where they were meant to go, the sports suffer.”

In the meantime, Dunford has started a company, Safigen that is aimed at accelerating the adoption of clean and energy saving technologies by Kenyan businesses through provision of low-cost, real-time data monitoring solution.

Recently, Dunford spread his wings by starting a talk show, J-Talk Live and together with Louis Baudoin and Brian Makoro, they have launched Afreality a new Pan-African, mobile-first, media platform showcasing African talent.

Dunford explained his involvement with the environment and media.

“I’ve been driven to solve environmental challenges ever since I first saw someone litter and subsequently studied the world’s environmental problems in depth whilst getting my Master’s degree in Earth Systems. Thus founding a company to confront climate change by accelerating deployment of clean energy saving technologies was on the road map.”

While dealing with environmental issues, Dunford was also intrigued by the media.

“With regards to media, it has always been a space that has intrigued me, but I was always a little unsure how to build on the brand I’d built from swimming. With the growing following of J-Talk Live, I have found a passion for interviewing remarkable people and hearing their stories and perspectives.

"Afreality is the next derivative of that, and for now is passion project, but I hope to transform it into a viable business.”

The energy and focus of Dunford is a reflection of a familiar path which is less trodden by Kenyan athletes.

Accountability cuts across every the divide

To Dunford, accountability cuts across every the divide and it is imperative that accurate news about Africa is conveyed to the audience.

“I have always been passionate about dispelling the notion that many people around the world have of Africa being a place of poverty, misery a deprivation. I am not denying that there are indeed a lot of problems across the continent, but there is another positive side that gets a lot less air time in world’s current media paradigm.

"Therefore I am extremely passionate about showcasing the beauty, talent and wonder of our continent and the people that live on it, but at the same time staying humble to the fact that there are still a lot of problems on which all of us across the continent and in the African diaspora need to come together in order to overcome.”

Towards this, Dunford would like to see more balanced coverage of the continent that gives more airtime to the incredibly positive developments in all the 54 countries.

“There are already several new platforms beginning to take up this mantle and I hope that my team and I can be part of the mix,” he acknowledges.

At the moment, Dunford has three platforms facebook.com/jasondunford, twitter @jason_dunford, youtube: Jason Dunford Live.

Some of the highlights of Jason Dunford: Olympic flag bearer, London 2012; World Championships 4th place 100m Butterfly, Shanghai 2011; Commonwealth Gold, 50m Butterfly, Delhi 2010; Commonwealth record, 100m Butterfly, Rome 2009; Olympic 5th place, 100m Butterfly, Beijing 2008; African record, 100m Butterfly, Melbourne 2007; Triple AAG Gold medalist, 50,100,200m Butterfly, Algiers 2007.