Well they are here, and they kind of snuck up on me this round! The club games are set to start in Glasgow, and as usual Kenya has sent a large contingent of track and field athletes looking to continue the gold medal rush from 2010. Believe it or not Kenya has 8 (yes eight!) representatives in the lawn bowls competition!
Anyway this post will start with the stuff Kenya is more known for and drift towards the not so known stuff. So we start with the track, and field events, and the middle and long distance events. This is what Kenya is widely known for as a sporting house all over the world. To the point everyone from spoof energy drink adverts to the Muppets has played on the ‘Kenyans are good at running’ idea.
I digress. The bulk of Kenya’s gold medals at the Club games have come on the back of dominating all the track events from 800 metres to the marathon. With the absence of some of the sprint powerhouses (USA) we have even won the odd medal at the 400 metres events.
This round a lot of the usual suspects will be at the Glasgow event. The headliners are obviously David Rudisha (current world record holder) at the 800m, Silas Kiplagat in the men’s 1500m, as well as Milcah Chemos a perennial force in the women’s steeplechase event.
They lead a host of names who have built a name for themselves among something of a ‘golden generation’ for Kenyan athletics in track events all over the world in the past decade in particular. Did you know that only one non-Kenyan has won a medal of any kind in the men’s steeplechase at the club games since 1994?
In addition to them there are the upcoming talents of Jarius Birech (who has dominated in this year’s diamond league events) and Mercy Cherono.
In the field event, perhaps Julius Yego, the YouTube man could deliver on his immense promise and medal. He has a top 3 finish in diamond league, so I will be keeping an eye on that.
Then there is boxing. Kenya has a tradition in producing high quality of amateur boxers that have scored medals on a regular basis, at commonwealth and other global competitions (RIP Robert Wangila). However with several decades of neglect, even downright cynical exploitation of boxers, the idea of a Kenya boxer, medalling at these games would be more a welcome relief than a serious expectation. This year’s squad features young men who have shown some fight ‘pun intended’ at international competition.
There is lot of expectation (they have a nice hype machine) being placed on Kenya’s rugby sevens squad. Not surprising because of how they have delivered beyond rational expectations on several occasions, against the world’s best on the IRB circuit, but also because they are generally the most well ordered team sport administration in Kenya behind them.
However, whereas, in some vents (LOOKING AT YOU TRACK AND FIELD) the commonwealth games can be said to be a dilution of talent, on the rugby field it’s more like a concentration of the best in the field. New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, England, South Africa, all have very well funded fully professional rugby machinery behind their teams, not to mention the hosts Scotland are no slouches at rugby.
Jason Dunford swimming event, Kenya has a host of fresh young talent, who this blogger hopes will be more than just escorting the Dunford men to gold medal glory.
Some months ago a certain South African minister insinuated that Kenya (or countries like Kenya send swimmers out to global competitions to drown in the pool. Now is the chance to tell Hon Mbalula with actions as well as words where he can go put his words.
On to the lesser known events I spoke of ‘fighting’ earlier in this post Kenya will also have representation in the Judo, event, for the first time in 12? Years, there will be Kenyans in the triathlon ands well as in the road and mountain biking events.
Maybe there is another Chris Froome in the making? These events may to the casual (read cynical) fan seem to be excess baggage on the road, but with a bit of vision just being there may be the beginning our nation becoming really good at the global stage. As the good book says, plant both in the morning and in the evening, for you do not know which will produce a harvest (or something like that)
Anyway in wrapping up this post, I want to wish the men and women flying the flag all the best, timely allowances and kits and mostly that the record haul of medals in Delhi 2010 may be surpassed.