#London2012: Picking up the Pieces.

First things first. Despite all the outpouring of grief in the media (old and new) medalwise Kenya’s showing in the just concluded London Olympics is far from being the worst showing Kenya has had at an olympics. 2 golds, 4 silver and 4 bronze actually compares favourably with most of Kenya’s showings at these over the past 2 decades. In fact it is way better than what whe could manage in the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. Perhaps it is the emphatic nature in which several track runners (coming into the games as strong contenders) came up short so spectacularly that did it. Perhaps It’s all the reports of gross incompetence on the part of NOCK officials (see reprint of Elias Makori post), of pool or boxing ring as the case might apply. Perhaps the glory of what happened in Beijing four years ago that caused us as fans to have unrealistic expectations. Maybe it was even a certain Athletics Kenya Honcho declaring Kenya would return with 12 gold medals on National television. All in all, however as good or bad as Kenya’s results at the Olympics were, empirically, the knives are already out and in due course, heads will very likely roll. Right, let get straight into the results, event by event, where Kenya had representatives. Firstly, Athletics (track and field) and the marathon. These events, as usual, delivered all of Kenya’s medals, with the unbeaten streak in the men’s steeple chase continuing into another Olympiad. Ezekiel Kemboi delivered gold and was almost literally on the next plane back to Kenya. Then there was David Rudisha, not only winning the men’s 800m title but breaking his own world record in a final where he pushed the pace so hard he forced 7 of the 8 other competitors in the final to break their own personal best times. Silver medals came from: Abel Kirui and Priscah Jeptoo in the marathon, Sally Kipyego in the womens 10000m, and Vivian Cheruiyot in the womens 5000m. The bronze medalists were Timothy Kitum 800m, Abel Mutai in the steeplechase (both hardly out their teens), Thomas Longosiwa and Vivian Cheruiyot. In the men’s 5k, and women’s 10k respectively. In the shorter track events, Kenya had representation in the 400m flat, and hurdles, and they had a team in the men’s 4x400m relay. None made it into the finals of their respective events and the less we talk about the collision in the men’s relay the better. Kenya’s sole field athlete, Julius Yego in the javelin throw, though finishing 12th, was th first competitor from Africa to feature in the finals of this event. This blogger hopes his example can be in inspiration to several others in the sport right across the continent. Off the track, Kenya had only a handful of entries across the entire spectrum of Olympic sports. There were 2 boxers, one man and one woman. Both were eliminated in the 1st round. How far has this event fallen since Robert Wangila delivered Africa’s first boxing gold in 1988. There were the Dunford brothers in the pool. David, the younger falling in the heats of both the 50m and 100m freestyle, and Jason, coming up short in an extremely difficult butterfly 100m semifinal. Finally there was Elizabeth Andiego who competed in the weightlifting, as a wild card entry. I hope the experience she had will lead her to more success in future events. As far as disappointment goes, it is in the track events, where i was felt most. Kenya did not medal in the 800m women’s race (where we had the defending champ) and the men’s 1500m (where we Kenya’s entries were the 3 fastest athletes in the discipline this year). On top of that there’s the agonizing way gold in both men’s and women’s marathon’s slipped away in the last few kilometres of the races. Factor in the rise of Mo Farah and the return to form of Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar in the long distances, and the result was frustration and disappointment for team Kenya. All in all though much of the fallout over the games will revolve around the middle and long distance races, and that some long overdue changes might be made to the way non-athletes have too much unchecked power over how well the actual competitors can prepare for things like the olympics, my concern is that without genuine competitiveness off the track, Kenya may have already hit their high water mark in terms of Olympic medal hauls. If that is the best measure of Olympics performance.

Author: Kimemia Maina

blogger, writer, dreamer...

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