Sunday, 24 August 2008
Wow! what an Olympics it's been for my countrymen and women. Nothing could have been better than having the Kenyan national anthem being the last on the playlist and that's exactly what happened when Samuel Wanjiru had the honour of being he first ever Kenyan Olympic marathon champion. This Olympiad has had a number of firsts for the Kenyans.
Jason Dunford was the first Kenyan swimmer to get to the finals and more to that he broke the olympic record on the way there. Some may say that he peaked to early but something tells me there's more to come especially from his younger brother David.
The next first was Pamela Jelimo who earned her place in the history books as the first Kenyan female Olypic champion. A lot was expected from this young lady 'the Kaptagat Express' and her counterpart 'the Eldoret Express' Janeth Jepkosgei. Lucky for us we managed to prise Pam from the Americans who wanted to ship her off to the far away lands. The last pioneer of course was Wanjiru(which is actually a Woman's name).
The Haul of 5 gold 5 silver and 4 bronze is our best ever. The only time we came close to that was in Seoul where we garnered 5 gold 2 silver and 2 bronze. Last year's no 2 position at the IAAF world championships was a tough act to follow but the boys and girls have shown that they've got what it takes to do even better.
Of all the 5 Gold medalists Jelimo, Kipruto, Langat, Bungei and Wanjiru some of them deserve a special mention. Jelimo has already been dealt with but the standout performance was from the relatively unknown Nancy Jebet Langat who won the women's 1500m, on that day the race was not a medla hope but she rose to the ocassion even without team mates to help her on. Next up is Bungei who as the captain made up for the dissappointment of not making the finals at the last Olympics. Last but not least is Wanjiru who won the marathon despite the favorite Martin Lel falling by the wayside .
Once again I congratulate the boys and girls for their performance which was outstanding, phenomenal, great even. As we celebrate let us not rest on our laurels as staying number one in Africa is not as easy as becoming number one. The beloved Ethiopians are constantly on our heels as evidenced by their double in the 5000 and 1000m. As I said in my earlier post these guys can be beaten but we have to be more strategic. Former Olympic champion John Ngugi( the last Kenyan to win the 5000m) higlighted this in an interview recently.
One thing that the Ethiopians have mastered is majoring on the majors as opposed to us who have guys running in the IAAF golden league and missing out on the olypmpics. Credit goes to Athletics Kenya for being strict this time round which I'm sure helped our performance. Teamwork wins every time!
Another thing that is vital is money, money, money! the Government and sponsors should do all they can to make sure the athletes get paid well for their efforts lest they defect to Qatar or Bahrain like some have. I wonder if we can even make athletics our national sport as that's our forte.
Kweli leo Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya
In a totally unrelated story came across these interesting pictures of Nairobi courtesy of Ntwiga's blog.