Olympics 2012 – Kenya busy missing Gold, what gives?

This weekend marked the start of the athletics programme in the ongoing London 2012 Olympic Games. From initial forecasts and given Kenya’s pedigree in the middle and long distance, it was finally a chance for Kenyans to cheer on #TeamKenya.
But things went awry from that first day when Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba took her Gold in the 10,000m for the 3rd consecutive Olympics after winning in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 ( remember she missed the World Athletics championships in Daegu at the World Athletics c’ships in 2011). Two of the Kenyan athletes did land the Silver and Bronze medals.
Second day and things went from bad to worse when the form book was suddenly changed with Great Britain’s Mo Farah won the 10,000m followed by US’s Galen Rupp while Ethiopia’s emerging talent in Bekele’s younger brother, Tariku was placed third.
Sunday and while we expected double gold, it was only a single one courtesy of Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3000m steeplechase ( and Bronze too from Mutai). The women marathon trio could only manage a Silver after running a tactical race but still wearing out before the final 5km.

What has been happening in London has been disappointing but not too shocking for those with a keener eye for matters athletics.
The team selection was first questioned especially for the 5,000m and 10,000m -men and women- when Athletics Kenya decided to take the trials for these races to Prefontaine – Oregon (USA). While our athltes were busy shuttling flights abroad, foreign athletes including Team GB’s Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe and US’ Galen Rupp were pitching camp in the Rift Valley high altitude training facilities in Iten.

Next was the controversy in the marathon teams selection. It was decided that the selection would be done after the London marathon which coincidentally ought to have been the ideal case of knowing the route. But alas the closeness of the race seemed to have cost Kenya the title due to fatigue, burn-out or a combination of other factors. The men’s team had to leave out one of the earlier selected athletes {The men’s marathon is the last event of the Games and though #TeamKenya fans would love to see Kenyan athletes come through…the jury’s still out there}

Then just a few weeks to the Games, Ezekiel Kemboi was moving between the courts and the cop stations to answer to alleged charges of rape. Though he did manage to get off to go to London, there is that small matter that he will have to answer to once back to Kenya. Though AK & NOC-K officials may not want to admit it, this must have been of concern within the camp. Kemboi is one of the biggest attractions on the Kenyan track, thanks to his antics on winning any of his major races. The accusations and media glare was almost reminiscent of what cost Kenya a world-class marathoner in the late Samuel Wanjiru.

Going into the 4th and 5th days in the athletics programme where Kenya’s only medal hopes, the performance in Beijing 2008 now seems like a bar too high to achieve. Or shall the Rudishas, Jelimos, Kiprops, Cheruiyots do otherwise? Pray you do!

ION
Since Kenya seems to have struck the endorsement deal with Nike, wonder why none of our athletes seem to feature in their campaigns for London 2012 or preceding the Games. We have seen others like Visa International, P&G to name but a few. Maybe it’s time that deal is revisited. And anyway, we’re never told how much its worth. A little disclosure from NOC-K and AK maybe?

Olympics 2012 – Kenya, This is IT!

The 4 year cycle is over & this time London it is! The Olympic Games – multiple-sport biggest sporting extravaganza. And Kenya is firmly in there to claim its place. For those who read this blog, we’ll give a few of our own thoughts on what we think of Kenya’s hopes at these Games;

Flying the Kenyan Flag

Athletics:
Our (over)-reliance on this means once again, it is and remains the biggest prospects for medals. There are quite a number of world-beaters, from world champions to world record holders as well as reigning Olympic medallists.
Predictions:
800m:
Men (Gold)  Women (Gold)

1500m:
Men (Gold and Silver) Women (Silver)

3000m steeplechase:
Men ( Gold, Silver & Bronze); Women ( Gold and Bronze)

5000m:
Men ( Bronze); Women ( Silver)

10000m
Men (Silver); Women ( Gold)

Marathon:
Men (Gold and Bronze); Women ( Gold, Silver)

4 X 400m (Men) – The one-lap runners will most likely make to the Final (if they don’t drop the baton or run outside their lane). But the traditional teams of US, Caribbean and even Team GB will still be too strong to overcome.

Javelin: It will be a honourable mention to Julius Yego but he can’t beat the Eastern Europeans and Scandinavian throwers. They’re way ahead technically and physically. 

Boxing:
No offence to our boxers but the best we can manage is a Bronze by Benson Gicharu. This is because the game is quite technical nowadays and the scoring system is quite something. The preparations were not up to standard but this Kenyan cop can pack a punch all the way to the semis.

Swimming:
Jason Dunford will once again get to the Finals of the 100m butterfly on the back of some great outings in the World Swimming c’ships and Africa c’ships & All-Africa Games. David Dunford might also make it through the heats but as for the Finals, still anyone’s guess…

Weighlifting:
This is another sport Kenya has never quite excelled at Olympic Games level and this year it won’t be any different. The techniques, lack of proper training as well as physical challenges are some of the reasons why.

Total Medal Haul Forecast:
 8 Gold 5 Silver & 4 Bronze
Put on a good show Kenyans and we shall be rooting for you to beat our medal forecast and bring more home. We shall be proud as always for your sterling show! Go #TeamKenya!

Road to Olympics – Beijing 2008 Olympics Games

Beijing 2008 logo – courtesy of www.olympic.org

In the final part of our Road to Olympics, we look at the most recent Games the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games held in China.


These Games were in many ways the ‘coming out’ party for the People’s Republic of China and indeed they put up a great spectacle. From modern venues to a well-choreographed opening ceremony, the Games were one of the biggest in recent times. There were other major milestones which included live broadcasts done via Internet as well as the emergence of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter which would change the way sport was viewed and reported. The shadow of Chinese authorities censorship did not escape observers though this was largely undone during the span of the Games.


Highlights:

  • China’s hosting meant that they emerged top of the medals standings by a haul – 51 Gold  compared to USA’s 36 – in the process setting a new record for most medals won in any single Games without boycotts (USSR had won 80 Gold in 1980 & USA 83 in 1984 but both had major boycotts).
  • The Bird’s Nest & Water Cube ( Beijing National Stadium and Beijing National Aquatics Center respectively) were some of the more enduring venues of any Olympic Games.
  • Concerns of pollution and insecurity had been expressed before the start of the Games but none of these came to fore during the Games exonerating the Beijing organisers.
  • Li Ning’s lighting of the torch was also one of the biggest highlights of the Games ( marketers also note it for the fact that he used his own shoe label instead of China’s official sponsors, Nike).
  • More than 100 Heads of States and Governments attended the Games during its whole duration. This is in addition to the 205 countries attending through their respective National Olympic Committees.
  • Michael Phelps finally broke the record for most gold medals in a single Olympics taking 8 Gold and breaking 7 world records and 1 Olympic record in the process.
  • Liu Xiang broke his home fans by dropping out of the 110m hurdles race which he had been favoured to win.

Beijing 2008 mascots

Kenyan Highlights:

  • After poor shows in the 1990s and early 2000s, Kenya finally reigned supreme taking 6 Gold 4 Silver and 4 Bronze ( 5 were won at the Games while the 6th was awarded to 1500m men 2nd-placed Asbel Kiprop after initial winner Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi was stripped for use of illegal substances)
  • Women medallists equalled the men  winning 3 Gold same as their male counterparts.
  • Other medallists included ; Gold –  800m women Pamela Jelimo, Wilfred Bungei 800m men, Nancy Lagat 1500m women, Brimin Kipruto 3000m men’s steeplechase and (the late)Samuel Wanjiru – men’s marathon; Silver – Janeth Jepkosgei 800m women, Eunice Jepkorir 3000m women’s steeplechase , Eliud Kipchoge  5000m men and Catherine Ndereba – women’s marathon, while Bronze went to Alfred Kirwa 800m men, Richard Mateelong 3000m steeplechase, Edwin Cheruiyot 5000m men and Micah Yogo 10000m men.
  • In swimming Jason Dunford, temporarily held the Olympic record for the 100m butterfly men’s event winning his Heat (7) in 51.14 seconds ( it’s now the African and Kenyan record). He did make the finals but was placed 7th. No mean achievement in itself! 
  • Kenya also sent a rower Matthew Lidaywa -who placed 30th in the finals of the Single Sculls- another first for the country in any Olympics!

Kenya’s Olympic Trials – Some ‘Mini Olympics’

Its interesting that the races going on this weekend are referred to as trials, should be more like qualifiers…maybe we’re unfazed by the English language… Speaking of the English, just over a month to go, Kenya shall be sending her contingent to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Athletics has been and remains Kenya’s mainstay for the gold haunt.

With a total of 78 medals won in all Olympic Games Kenya has participated in, Athletics has won us, 69 – 28 Gold 27 Silver and 19 Bronze.

These Games will be no exception and this weekend, some of the races that Kenya expects to harvest medals in shall know its representatives. They are;

  • 800m men
  • 1500m men and women
  • 3000m steeplechase (men)
  • 5000m men and women
The qualifiers in these races will join others who have already qualified by virtue of attaining the times and being named by Athletics Kenya and include 4 x 400m men’s team, javelin (men), marathon teams (both men and women) and the 10000m men and women.This is to hoping only the best emerge and no controversial decisions crop up from the complaints of wild card selections et al. 
We do wish the all athletes, the best in their respective races and let’s pull one better than we did in Beijing 2008. The potent you have from last year’s World Athletics Championships means you’re true world-beaters. Our heritage with our former colonial masters ought to be good enough inspiration. 
Do it!

UPDATE:
Saturday marked the culmination of one of the hotly contested Olympic tickets in recent history. No major upsets were realised and most of the favourites registered good times and easily booked tickets. Preview of the some of those who made the final list of Olympic finalists is as follows;



Men:
800mDavid Rudisha, Timothy Kitum, Job Kinyor
1500m – Asbel Kiprop, Nixon Chepseba, Silas Kiplagat
5000m – Isaiah Kiplangat, Edwin Soi, Thomas Longosiwa
10000m – Wilson Kiprop, Moses Masai, Bitan Karoki
Marathon – Wilson Kipsang, Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai
400m hurdles – Vincent Koskei
3000m steeplechase – Brimin Kipruto, Abel Mutai, Ezekiel Kemboi
4 X 400m – David Rudisha, Mark Mutai, Vincent Mumo, Vincent Koskei, Anderson Mureta

Women:
800m – Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei, Winnie Chebet
1500m – Hellen Obiri, Eunice Sum, Faith Chepngetich
5000m – Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego, Viola Kibiwott
10000m – Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego, Linet Chepkirui
Marathon – Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo
3000m steeplechase – Lydia Rotich, Mercy Njoroge, Milcah Chemos

ZUKU to air 2012 Samsung IAAF Diamond League Athletics series…

Diamond League logocourtesy of IAAF

As part of improving its sports menu, Zuku has confirmed that it has live broadcast rights for the 2012 Diamond  League sponsored by Samsung ( now in its 4th year of sponsoring the League). With the Diamond Series having a total of 15 Grand Prix events which started in Doha on 11th May traversing various American, European and Asian cities with the final event being held in Brussels on 7th September 2012.
These Grand Prix events will be used by many athletes to warm up for the upcoming Olympic Games in London from July to August. It will also serve as great breeding grounds for upcoming talents for which Kenyan and African athletes have continually dominated especially in the middle to long distance races. The same will go for individual rivalries being settled by the cut of the tape. Further enticement from the organisers is breaking of world records in the individual disciplines for the favoured athletes.

ZUKU logocourtesy of www.zuku.com

Entertainment for you the discerning athletics fans and watching audience of ZUKU programmes will be happy to note that the likes of Usain Bolt, David Rudisha, Vivian Cheruiyot, Pamela Jelimo have already run in the first 2 events and shall surely be part of some if not a fair share of the GPs.
As Hannelie Bekker -MD Wananchi Programming ( ZUKU) aptly put it, “ZUKU is proud to be broadcasting the 2012 Samsung Diamond League and proud of Kenyan athletes. They are some of Africa’s brightest stars…”

The remaining Grand Prix events in the Diamond League series to be screened by ZUKU are as follows;

  1. 31st May : Rome – Italy ( 2000 – 2200 hours Local East Africa time)
  2. 2nd June: Eugene – USA ( 1130 – 1330hrs)
  3. 7th June: Oslo – Norway ( 2000 – 2200hrs)
  4. 9th June: New York – USA ( 1500 – 1700hrs)
  5. 6th July: Paris – France ( 2000 – 2200hrs)
  6. 13th July: London – England ( 1900 – 2100hrs)
  7. 14th July: London – England ( 1500 – 1700hrs)
  8. 20th July: Monaco – Monaco ( 2000 – 2200hrs)
  9. 17th August: Stockholm – Sweden ( 2000 – 2200hrs)
  10. 23rd August: Lausanne – Switzerland ( 2000 – 2200hrs)
  11. 26th August: Birmingham – England (1500 – 1700hrs)
  12. 30th August: Zurich – Switzerland (2000 – 2200hrs)
  13. 7th September: Brussels – Belgium (2000 – 2200hrs)

Pamela Jelimo & Hellen Obiri – We Salute you ladies!

As most sporting action had been turned to other sporting events, this weekend the World Athletics Indoor championships made sure that Kenyan sporting prowess was once again promoting the country’s richness on the world stage.
Having had a past poor record in the event, most Kenyan journos had also not put much interest into the going-ons and this blogger too had overlooked what would be a memorable Sunday for the country. Since Kenya’s first gold in 1989 in Budapest, thanks to one Paul Ereng ( who also won the 1991 gold medal in the 800m), our showing has been rather dismal with a few silver sprinkled among the other 4 gold the country has won in this indoor sports event.

From left, Kenyan starlets – Pamela Jelimo & Helen Obiriimage courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

Thus our hopes had been somewhat tempered not just by the country’s poor showing but also by the fact that the athletes representing the country in the various races have not been having an easy time in their outdoor events. This was best exemplified by Pamela Jelimo who had dropped from competition in the past two seasons due to injury and also low self-esteem after storming onto the scene in 2008 and winning everything on offer that year.
But as they say, in sport you’re only as good as your last event, two ladies in Pamela Jelimo and Hellen Obiri had their scripts to write and lead the country’s slaught for places on the podium. Where their male counter-parts faltered, they picked themselves up and ensured a place for Kenya in the 2012 championships.
Big KUDOS for your wins!
So Athletics Kenya, can we manage a bigger squad for more honours for the indoor event? With the droves of young talent, our representation should be as all-rounded as it can be. A causory look at some of those events meant we would have been placed 2nd overall …food for though in 2014, Sopot, Poland…

Commonwealth Games 2010 : Kenya’s Medal Hopes

2 days to go; we shall look at what medal hopes Kenya has hoping to work some magic and join the Commonwealth nations in throwing a great party in New Delhi. Much work has been done by the Indian authorities trying to get some reprieve from the hostile media coverage and even gotten fair endorsement from the IOC supremo Jacques Rogge. 
We have also had our reservations but let’s give our Asian brothers the benefit of doubt to put out something memorable.What chances do we have of beating the 2006 medal haul of 6 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze medals? Here’s our take (DISCLAIMER: nothing scientific in determining this...);


Athletics:
This is our forte and shall continue being for the longest time. A great team assembled but some withdrawals from the 800m pair of David Rudisha and Janeth Jepkosgei ( and injury to Pamela Jelimo) means the star performers are reduced. There are also a couple of star athletes who gave the Games a miss for one reason or the other.

Ezekiel Kemboi – Kenya’s Team Captain & 3000m medal prospect

Men 
800m:- (Silver) ; 1500m:-(Gold & Silver) ; 3000m:-(Gold & Silver) ; 5000m:- (Silver) ; 10000m:-(Bronze)
4x400m:- (Bronze) ; Marathon (none)
Women
800m:- (none); 1500m:-(Gold); 5000m (Gold); 10000m (Silver)
Total Count : 4 Gold 5 Silver & 2 Bronze

Swimming:
This is ahead of traditional boxing because for the first time we have real medal prospects in the name of the Dunford ( David & Jason) brothers. Hoping the Australians, Britons and Canadians have a bad day in the temperate conditions of the Asian sub-continent, 1 silver; 1 bronze  (make that 1 gold & 1 silver and a bronze) look like possibilities.

Boxing:
With the team heavily depleted and lacking in technical expertise, we don’t foresee any medal hopes here. There might a chance of a Quarter-finalist at best.

Rugby:

Kenya 7s rugby team – courtesy of orange.co.ke 

We have a great 7-a-side team playing great rugby and impressing on the IRB Sevens circuit. But when you have such powerhouses as New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Samoa and others such as Wales and England, any medal hopes quickly vanish.The instability drawn from the team’s selection and fairly average performance in the IRB 7s 2009-10 season also slow down any progress we would have made. Don’t underrate our boys though, at least they will pull one or two upsets. Check out this blog for more analysis on the Kenyan rugby team www.rugbykenya.blogspot.com.

While we are represented in at least 6 other disciplines, none of these shall attract any medals and thus in all fairness ends our hopes. Sceptics we maybe but that’s what the reality of the team’s preparations put us. In total we foresee a total medal haul of 4 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze. Any bets on this? Sunday 3rd October the Games begin….for updates check the official site here http://www.cwgdelhi2010.org/.

David Rudisha ‘rudishas’ the 800m world record home

What a weekend it has been for Kenyan athletics! Not that we are never in the spotlight but this time, breaking this or that record. David Rudisha – son of another famous Rudisha (Daniel) who in his day was a 400m specialist and Olympic bronze medallist in 1968 – made sure that the record to the men’s 800m ‘comes back home’. The previous world record holder though Kenyan-born, changed citizenship to become a Dane before going on to conquer the world in the distance ( ….wonder if he qualifies for dual citizenships under the new constitution dispensation…). He posted a time of 1.41:09 shaving of 0.02 secs.

His performance in the last two years has been phenomenal and it was only time before this young Kenyan athlete to cement his place in the 2-lap event. He also drew inspiration from the ladies in the names of Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Jepkosgei. They have led Kenya’s onslaught in the distance in the last 3 years.  Let’s see how he maintains his hold over the distance as the Commonwealth in India and later Olympic Games in 2012 shall be.

(Fact: Even with all the pedigree in athletics, it is the first time that a Kenyan athlete claims the record…). For now though, let’s raise our glasses to this true Kenyan hero!

UPDATE:
In less than 6 days, a record that took more than 13 years has been bettered by you guessed it, the one and only David Rudisha…1.41:01!  It is amazing to break a record but to better oneself within such a short time, we are lost for words. Another running sensation from this beloved country of Kenya. Makes us feel so full of pride, what with all the weekend ‘renewal of vows’ for the nation!

Nancy Lagat proves she’s no fluke on the World Athletics stage

(Images courtesy of www.diamondleague.com & Gladys Chai)

August 2008 Beijing : Kenya is quickly trying to prove that the Games are not a flop after waiting till the last few days to get a respectable medal haul. It being a Saturday, Kenyans were waiting for their captain to lead from the front – this was none other that Wilfred Bung’ei who needed to break his duck in the 800m by winning the gold that had eluded him for so long. To win he did win, but on that same day, Kenyans were treated to a double gold when an uncelebrated and usually quiet lady by the name Nancy Lagat beating a strong Ukrainian team which had looked favoured to win the race. She was only the second woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics for Kenya after Pamela Jelimo had blazed the field to claim Kenya’s first Olympic gold in the women’s 800m.
{that same season Pamela Jelimo won the Golden League jackpot becoming the first and only Kenyan athlete  to do so – it has since been replaced by the Diamond League}

Fast forward to August 2010: With the new-look Diamond League – which features 14 events in athletics (including both track and field events, across the breadth of Europe, a race from China as well as Doha in the Middle East and also for the first time an American GP event; among the favourites to win the jackpot is yes Nancy Lagat. She won 8 out of the 14 races and was thus among the athletes honoured with the first Diamond League Ambassador status.

What’s more she made time to compete in the African Athletics Championships and won her speciality with ease. Much gratitude for her consistence on the field this season and also for returning Kenyan’s own in the Grand Prix athletics series after Pamela Jelimo exploits ( where is this lady, one-season wonder or…? ). What next the Commonwealth Games?
I’m sure this might earn her a photo-op with the Kenyan Head of State, like Pamela in 2008 ( but thankfully any suitors will be sad to learn she is married to a fellow athlete , serves in the Kenya Army and thus she keeps all the loot….)


ALSO in
Paul Kipsiele of the 3000m steeplechase also shared the podium as a Diamond League Ambassador even after being beaten by Ezekiel Kemboi in this Kenyan speciality. Congratulations in order too. 

Cast-Her Semenya – Who’s fooling who ?

For sometime we all thought we had the 800m women’s title(s) wrapped after last year’s Olympic Games. Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Jepkosgei had won both gold and silver and I thought we finally had our own version of the Ethiopian legends. Wait till Caster Semenya happened on the scene…
Since her win she has managed to eclipse any other athlete even ‘the Bolt’ from Jamaica. What was easily one of the most exciting athletics meet in recent times has boiled down to what symbol Semenya represents…
What has incensed me though are two observations. First the IAAF has handled the whole affair badly and thanks to media which sniffs like rabid dogs, Semenya’s goose was roasted once in the Finals of the 800 race. Where were they when Semenya won the junior championships last both at the World and Commonwealth championships?
Secondly while the South Africans were justified to feel angered by the treatment of one of their 3 heros from the World Athletics Championship, the whole scene having politicos shouting this and that made bad publicity and will only precipitate the situation.The ANC officials were the worst culprits drawing out the likes of Winnie Mandikizela out of the woodwork. With findings suggesting that Semenya has about 3 times the normal levels of testosterone, the saga will continue to elicit emotive actions.
It would border on insanity for anyone to even have thought of sneaking in anything like that if it’s proven but for now let Semenya be. I’m sure we all know of the local tom-boy who may even more masculine than we know. What happened to liberal society ?

By the way, is the athlete by any chance a relation of the more famous musical brother Caiphus Semenya?