Many Kenyan athletes tempted to seek greener pastures in Uganda

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – Athletics Kenya held another consultative forum with stakeholders in West Pokot County at Kishaunet Showground in Kapenguria.

The series of heart-to-heart meetings, which began a month ago at Ngong’, were mooted to identify pertinent issues affecting athletics and plausible solutions to the same.

Overall, stakeholders who spoke at today’s meeting moaned about the increasing neglect of athletes at the county and national levels.

Long-distance runner Peter Gushu said many athletes have contemplated switching allegiance to neighbouring Uganda due to the better conditions in the East African rivals.

“Seems gold for Uganda has more value than ours because there is no way you can explain the disparity in how our neighbors are received and awarded after major events. As an athlete, I also want to feel good and appreciated. How about even name roads after our athletes who have brought a lot of honour,” quizzed Gushu.

Gushu argued the fact that past Kenyan-born athletes in Uganda have been well-catered is increasingly enticing others back home to tread the same route.

“The reality of the matter is that a big number of our athletes here have lost hope. The situation is not getting any better but worse. All we are asking for is support and appreciation that is not forthcoming,” he said.

He appealed to the agencies concerned to improve the county’s state of infrastructures and training facilities before the situation gets out of hand.

Cornelius Ndiwa speaks during the Athletes’ consultative forum at Mt. Elgon High atitude training centre in Kaptama, Bungoma county

Marathoner Gladys Kiprotich said, despite the region’s favourable climate, good training altitude, and abundant talent, the lack of modern facilities continues to be a drawback.

“Even with all the above conditions, it is absolutely difficult to reach the highest level without facilities. Neither the national nor county government is working towards giving us tracks to train from, they are not even following up to address some of our minimum problems,” she said.

The Elgeyo Marakwet native further challenged Athletics Kenya to consider awarding more athletes during weekend meetings.

“The country has an abundance of talents and therefore you’d expect stiff competition at all levels, so my appeal to AK is that they award the top 20 athletes in each category so as to motivate the athletes,” Kiprotich added. Program coordinator John Kimetto lauded the impact of the meetings in 15 regions across the country.

“I am happy because we have obtained the data we wanted. We wanted to reach as many athletes as possible. That is why we have been having the one-day event. It will be a marathon for us as a federation because we took advantage of the off-season, especially for the track athletes. After the meetings, we intend to compile the reports and come up with one detailed report for action,” Kimetto said.

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