Kenya’s athletes are working even harder!

Ibrahim Jelian, Ethiopia's lone gold medalist

Kenya’s all-conquering World Athletics Championships team made a triumphant return home after an impressive result collecting 17 medals – among which were 7 golds – an improvement  on their previous result of 11 medals, which they took home from  Berlin in 2009.  Ethiopia’s team, meanwhile, were nowhere near maintaining their previous medal results from the 2009 championships.

Kenya was sensational in South Korea where it closely followed the United States and Russia. Kenya also made a sensational debut at the Daegu World Championship with a historic triple in the women marathon event.

It was not more than two years ago that we tasted such victories on such high profile stages. However that, it seems, is now becoming history. Kenyans used to compete with us fiercely in the past and be proud to sometimes win some races during such events.

They have worked hard for years to change their status in the long and short distance running events and have now become successful in achieving magnificent results that we have never tasted. Teams from Ethiopia have never achieved such a triumph in any kind of events.

Yes, we have some talented individuals that come up and go at some events. However in my opinion this is not what Ethiopia has to offer the world of athletics. The legendary Haile Gebresellasie is an exception. Ethiopia has so many talents that can prove Ethiopians can run well, but something went wrong somewhere to spoil the name that was built over the last couple of decades.

Kenyan Vivian Cheriot’s has risen as double champion performing the carbon copy of what Tirunesh Dibaba did in 2005 in Helsinki. Cheriot become the second woman athlete on the planet next to Tirunesh to win the double in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters distances. No one was there to at least compete with her from Ethiopia. But when Tirunesh did the doubles back in 2005 the Kenyans were all over her to the last minute. This time we didn’t see any Ethiopian anywhere near Cheriot while she cruised the laps by herself to the finish line.

The results of Ethiopia in 13th Daegu World Athletics Championship were a disgrace to the Ethiopian sports family.       The Ethiopian Athletics Federation is now the center of attention in the country, being blamed for selecting athletes in a manner that lacks transparency. Athletics fans are repeatedly heard saying that some members of the Federation and some athletes are involved in some kind of scam that is killing the only sports that Ethiopians can be proud of.

Such practice has forced the country to lean on very few athletes. This is what happened in the World Champion Competition in Daegu, South Korea.

“The federation is filled with incompetent staff. Young and talented athletes are victimized by some members of the federations and by elite athletes. If given a chance these young athletes will work for the glory of the country in international sporting arenas bringing benefits and prestige to many far outside their personal sphere,” said one disgruntled athletics fan on a live radio program aired this week.

“Most capable athletic coaches and professionals were sidelined in the name of retirement and health related problems. Moreover the federation has not done anything after their last triumph some years back. They are just sitting and waiting to win trophies without even trying,” the listener commented.

Kenya’s Men’s Marathon gold medalist announced his intentions to break the world marathon record next year besides working to ensure Kenya retains the Olympic Marathon title at the 2012 London Games. “With our current form anything is possible in London. We need to do it for our fallen colleague, the late Samuel Wanjiru, who became the first Kenyan to win Olympic Marathon title in 2008,” Kirui said. “I will personally sacrifice anything to run for my country in London” he added.

This is the attitude of Kenyan athletes. They are determined to make their country proud. Even though it is hard to beat the persistent Haile (we are crossing our fingers that he will be in good health until the 2012 London Olympics) their determination shows that they will be competing fiercely for the title until the end. The late Wanjiru set the new Olympic marathon record with a time of 2:06:32 at the 2008 Beijing Games while Haile holds the record of 2:03:59 attained at the 2008 Berlin Marathon.

The Kenyans have said they will review the men’s performance in 5,000m and 10,000m races before the London Olympic Games and also announced that they will make some changes in their team. Ironically Ethiopia’s head coach said that he is delighted by the results (Ethiopia only got three medals).

Meanwhile, the Kenyans are doing more and more and we are sitting idle and bragging about previous results. Someone should do something to bring significant changes and to help the sport revive.

Source: The Capital

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