A Patriotic Test.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the Olympic Games this year, all the joy and elation of winning a medal- preferably gold- and the disappointment of being so close but yet so far. I am a sports junkie and will on any given day most likely chose to watch a sport than anything else on offer add to that the fact that the games come once every 4 years and I was hooked. Everyone starts off on day one of this viewing adventure with every reason to be optimistic and hopeful that their country will triumph once more, hoping that they can replicate or surpass the –in this case- glowing and memorable performance of the last Games but if you like I had the good fortune of being Kenyan you were in for a recipe of shock and dismay with just a dash of pain and disbelief with a few cherry sized sweet moments thrown in just to keep you hoping that things would turn around.But as race after race went by and the shock of defeat after gut wrenching defeat became an all too real nightmare the hope and optimism once felt would slowly sour into bitter scepticism and those loving patriotic feelings began to wane and you were presented with a true test in remaining loyal to the flag and wanting to root loudly for the other guy on the outside lane approaching faster than you can say: ‘sayonara fellas’. This was the hard decision that faced me and as I’m sure many other frustrated Kenyans as we watched our man and women lose races that we had historically had ‘in the bag’ among them the women's marathon, 10,000m and 3,000m Steeplechase as well as the men's 10,000m, 1,500m after such dismal showing the country, coaches, Athletics Kenya and the National Olympic Committee all went in search for somewhere to park the blame bus. When the athletes, coaches and members of both NOC-K and AK jetted back into the country and were well received- which they deserved- the mudslinging began between NOC-K and AK a war of words that did nothing to figure out exactly what went so terribly wrong-except to get those on both sides dirty.
Now in order to avoid being a complete Debbie Downer I must make mention of Timothy Kitum; who ran himself all the way to a bronze medal in the 800m men’s race, and left Kenyans with a strong sense of hope that there will surely be greater things not only in the 18 year olds future but the countries future, and Julius Yego and his remarkable 12th place finish in the Javelin throw, it is so considering the 23 year old is the first Kenyan ever to toss himself into the field events at the 30th Olympiad more so, that the policeman learnt his skill on YouTube- ah the wonder and miracle of the Internet- thereafter setting himself the steep goal of being a finalist which he achieved. Seeing Yego’s attitude and ambition as he made history got me questioning why it is that Kenyans are so comfortable being cast solely as runners and why it is that we just can’t seem to cast ourselves and the country in a new, brighter, multi facetted light by participating in more sports, diversifying our repertoire and thus increasing our chances of getting more medals. By the time Kenya began its medal hunt on the 4th of August dozens of medals had already been scooped up in a variety of other sporting events.
For example why weren’t there a judo team and what of our ladies volleyball and netball teams? What's inhibiting us from taking part in sports like shooting?
Why for goodness sake don’t we have talent scouts who go out to different parts of the country to search for youngsters, who at school level participate in the long jump and high jump then take them on and train them into Olympic athletes and what of the plethora of swimming talent we have in the country particularly at the coast in high school, why don’t we have trials for them to prove their metal? The more I ask these questions the more I think why don’t we do it?
As for our current dismal situation the head of state too is perturbed with the recent state of affairs so much so that he is demanding answers ‘fast’ has ordered –you guessed it- yet another probe into the matter. The question on the president’s mind is undoubtedly why Kenya was only able to amass 2 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals. He ordered the Ministry of Sports to ‘move fast and establish the reasons for the below par performance’ President KIbaki added that he will be ‘waiting for the report’ to ‘ensure that we have learnt from our mistakes and ensure that it will not happen again’. He also had advice for the two quarrelling sports federations (AK and NOC-K): ‘You must at all times put the needs and aspirations of the sporting fraternity above all others’-and everyone around the country must have said Amen. Now all he have to do is sit back and watch while the Ministry of Sports scratch their heads to provide the president with answers and hope not only that this inquiry dose not go the way of numerous others: nowhere but also that those involved in the loses have learnt the valuable but lessons of London and that we only get better from here.