What you need to know:
- While work at Siaya County Stadium stalled several months ago, construction is still ongoing at Homa Bay Stadium, but at a very slow pace.
- Plans by Kisumu County government to reconstruct Moi Stadium were halted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission over graft.
Athletics Kenya (AK) has appealed to Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's led administration in Kisumu County to fulfill its promise of clearing the Kachok dumpsite for the sake of athletes.
Over the weekend, AK Nyanza North region played host to the second AK Track and Field Meeting at Moi Stadium and the nearby dumpsite posed a serious health concern to the athletes and officials.
Those who graced the two-day event were forced to cope with the pungent smell emanating from the dumpsite. Among them were 1500metres World Champion Timothy Cheruiyot, Africa Games 1500m champion Geroge Manang'oi and World Under-20 race walk champion Dominic Ndigiti.
"It is not good to expose athletes to such a bad condition in this era when we are united in fighting air pollution. We told the officials (of Kisumu County) that the dumpsite should be removed from there completely," said AK president Jackson Tuwei.
"We should take care of our athletes by ensuring that they compete where there is fresh air."
His sentiments were echoed by AK Nyanza North chairman, Joseph Ochieng, who now fears that the region may in future not host any top athletics competitions, if things do not change.
“I don’t think we will be allowed to host another top event at this place if things don’t change. The smell from the dumpsite was just too much for the athletes to cope with,” said Ochieng.
But Tuwei clarified that AK have no plans to bar the region from playing host to competitions due to lack of a proper venue.
While AK Nyanza North had initially earmarked the recently constructed Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Mamboleo for the meeting, lack of a tartan track at the venue forced them to switch the event to Moi Stadium, which is home to a dusty, murram track.
“Making athletes run on tarmac at Jomo Kenya International Stadium would have been a grave mistake. Tarmac is more prone to injuries than murram and that is why we opted to use Moi Stadium,” said Ochieng.
Apart from the pungent smell,the athletes also had to cope with the lack of a warm up track. Some of the athletes resorted to prepare for their turn on the track by warming up on the bumpy ground behind the wire mesh that surrounds the pitch.
The space in front of the stadium would have been the best alternative place for the athletes to warm up but, Governor Nyong'o's administration used it to accommodate traders who were relocated from Kibuye Market, which is under construction.
The meeting was also forced to start late on Friday after rain washed away the markings that had been done on the track the previous day.
The organisers had to mark the track afresh as the races started at 10am and not 8: 30am as had been scheduled.
Some of the athletes also lamented the poor state of the track, saying it denied them the opportunity to clock their targeted times.
“I am competing against my own time and this track is not just favourable for that,” said Nusra Rukia of the Kenya Defence Forces after finishing top in the women’s 100m hurdle in 15.3 seconds. She had targeted timing sub14 seconds.
Warning that several talents are being wasted due to lack of a proper venue for training and competitions in the region, Ochieng appealed to the national government to move with speed and install a tartan tack at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium.
He also appealed to Governors Cyprian Awiti (Homabay) and Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) to ensure stadiums being constructed by their respective administrations are completed to the required standards for athletics competitions.
"We are yet to have a proper stadium in this region (Nyanza North). There were a lot of hopes that things would be better when construction of Homa Bay and Siaya County Stadiums began. They need to be completed to the best standards for all competitions including athletics," he said.
While work at Siaya County Stadium stalled several months ago, construction is still ongoing at Homa Bay Stadium, but at a very slow pace.
Plans by Kisumu County government to reconstruct Moi Stadium were halted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission over graft.