Athletics Kenya 70th Anniversary At The Nyayo National Stadium, 15th December, 2020

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Coat of arms of Kenya

Remarks By Amb. (Dr) Amina Mohamed, EGH, CAV Cabinet Secretary Ministry Of Sports Culture And Heritage On The Occasion Of Athletics Kenya 70th Anniversary At The Nyayo National Stadium, 15th December, 2020

 

Mr. Joe Okudo, Principal Secretary State Department of Sports

Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei, President Athletics Kenya

The Athletics Kenya Executive Committee

Dr. Paul Tergat President of National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K)

Honorable Sports Legends Present

County Government Officials Present

Members of the Press

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am delighted to join you this morning on this special occasion to commemorate 70 boundless years since Athletics Kenya was founded in 1950 under the auspices of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) by British volunteer Sir Archie Evans alongside Sir Derek Erskine. I congratulate you for elevating the image of our country and stamping Kenya’s dominance in athletics with solid resolve and consistency globally since inception.

 

We all recall the long road that we have travelled since Kenya’s debut at the Olympic Games in 1956 in Melbourne Australia while under colonial rule and in 1964 at the Tokyo Olympic Games as an independent Nation. The story of Athletics in our country is one that has attracted keen global scrutiny in the quest to unearth the secrets to our exceptional athleticism and winning formula.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Allow me to end the search for this formula by declaring that, our great athletes’ have an unprecedented hunger for excellence, unparalleled discipline, uplifting humility and the favour and blessing of God during creation. 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Kenyan athletes are built for excellence with human features that allow sustained speed, long strides, great elasticity and flexibility to sustain the perfect spring on the track and a respiratory system that is accustomed to low levels of oxygen as a result of Kenya’s beautiful elevated terrain in most of our heartland. Most of all, a mind that is attune to tact, precision, calculation, mastery, expansion to accommodate intense absorption of sensory and intuitive data and belief in self and fellow compatriots.

 

Our athletes compete for honour. not of self, but for country. By donning their spikes, they go to war for our country, not with guns or tankers, but with the beautiful display of athletic prowess on any track in any part of the globe. They have been Kenya’s flying Ambassadors since independence, silencing the world to listen to our national anthem whenever they take to the track. Over the years, Kenya has won a total of 103 medals in track and field at the Olympic Games, securing the enviable position of one of the most indomitable athletic giants on earth.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

These accomplishments have been made possible by the exceptional stewardship of Athletics Kenya by the Executive Committee. The intention and commitment to open athletics to national competitive trials in the selection of ‘TeamKenya’ has yielded the best in our land and nurtured many more who have recorded great athletic careers not just in the country, but also, abroad. 

 

In 2021, the Ministry in conjunction with Google Arts and Culture, Google Kenya, Athletics Kenya, the National Olympic and Paralympic Committees and other partners will launch the first and largest digital content feature on Kenyan sports, ever. It will celebrate the country’s history, heritage and excellence across disciplines, geography and communities. This project will also give us a platform to store all the turning sporting moments in history. Furthermore, it will highlight the ‘superpowers’ of Kenya’s athletes and show how sports can change lives and how iconic sports heroes are improving lives in their communities and pushing the known boundaries of athletic performance one second at a time.

 

I invite you to fully participate in this monumental project whose end aspiration is to create an online sports museum to share the unbounded gift of Kenya’s rich sporting history with the rest of the world.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Athletics Kenya remains one of the most successful sports Federation  not only in Kenya, but in the world, having produced a galaxy of stars who have followed in the footsteps of pioneers such as Nyandika Maiyoro, Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, Amos Biwott, Kipchoge Keino, Naftali Temo, Naftali Bon, Ben Jipcho, Tecla Chemabwai Sang, Tegla Loroupe, Lydia Stephens, Elizabeth Jemeli Chesire, Hezekiah Nyamau, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang and Charles Asati, among others. Their achievements stand out, starting with Kiprugut who was the first Kenyan to win an Olympic Bronze Medal, in the 880 yards (now 800m) at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. This fete came after Maiyoro, one of the first Kenyan athletes to compete in a global contest at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, led the national team in the 4×440 Yards Relay (now 4x400M Relay) comprising the legendary Bartojo Rotich, Wanyoike Kamau, Musembi Mbathi alongside 880 yards stars Silas Kibet Boit and Kiptalam Keter.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Our African ancestors reminded us that ‘a child who has washed its hands, can dines with Kings and Queens.’ Indeed, as a result of this undisputable stewardship, World Athletics nominated Athletics Kenya, which is among the top six Athletics Federations in the world, for the “World Federation of the Year” Award, a testament to the great resources Athletics Kenya has invested in managing and developing athletics nationally, regionally and internationally. Congratulations and we are very proud of you!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Recently, Iten was awarded the World Athletics Heritage Plaque for its outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of athletics. This is yet another indication of the global confidence in our management of the sport over the years. As a Ministry, we shall continue to jealously guard this heritage and support our athletes to secure their continued participation at the highest levels of competitive sport across the world. It is for this reason that the Government has committed to financing the 2021 World Athletics Continental Tour meeting in Nairobi against the backdrop of a very successful Gold Label Continental Tour Debut dubbed the Kip Keino Classic in October this year.

The success of the inaugural Kip Keino Classic on October 3, where 30 nations were in attendance, the highest global appearance on this new circuit, demonstrates the Government’s focus on sports development and our projected future to brand Kenya as the Sporting Capital in Africa.

 

Finally, let me remind you that the foundation of Kenya’s sporting excellence is anchored on clean sport. Our efforts to weed out the isolated criminal elements advancing cheating in sport and threatening to infiltrate our training camps and residences bears great promise. The Government has adopted a multi-agency approach to fighting doping in the country and we will be unforgiving in the way we deal with doping peddlers. Foreign nationals caught advancing this vice will be deported and barred from re-entering the country, medical practitioners de-registered, coaches de-licensed and managers relieved of all responsibilities. 

 

It is our duty to protect our national treasures and we will spare no effort in this endeavour. The Anti-Doping (Amendment) Bill, 2020 soon to be discussed in Parliament introduces additional measures to fight doping. We will continue to expand anti-doping education and offering all the support structures necessary for athletes to declare their whereabouts and be biological passport compliant at all times. My office is open for any complaints or feedback in this regard.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

As you celebrate these 70 brilliant years of consistent growth and acceleration of Athletics in Kenya, I would like to offer my, and the Government’s sincere appreciation and congratulations to you for a job well done.

 

Asanteni Sana.

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