Seek help before it’s too late, AK urges hurting athletes

Paul Mutwii

Athletics Kenya Senior Vice President Paul Mutwii addressing athletes during the National Consultative Meeting at Chuka University in Tharaka Nithi County on November 10, 2021.

Photo credit: Pool |

What you need to know:

  • In the third of a series of meetings lined up by Athletics Kenya across the country, it emerged at Chuka forum that even though athletes have been facing challenges in their relationships, many of them have been keeping to themselves.

Athletes have been suffering in silence for long with no help in sight, an Athletics Kenya (AK) National Consultative Meeting was told in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County on Wednesday.

In the third of a series of meetings lined up by Athletics Kenya across the country, it emerged at Chuka forum that even though athletes have been facing challenges in their relationships, many of them have been keeping to themselves.

AK executive in charge of women Elizabeth Keitany said that many talented athletes are from poor backgrounds and easily fall prey to people posing as though they are in a position to help kick-start their career when they are just predators taking advantage of naive girls.

“We have a big problem in addressing issues that affect female athletes. It has come to our attention that some of them are in a difficult situation today because they trusted people with ulterior motives. They are now stuck in toxic relationships because the people who ‘helped’ them returned to ask for favours in kind and this is unacceptable,” said Keitany at Chuka University in Tharaka Nithi County where the forum was held.

The official said that no one should take advantage of vulnerable runners simply because they need help. Keitany advised female athletes to seek help from the federation when they are starting out their career or they risk falling victim of people with questionable motives.

She said that come from a poor background, and despite having a talent in athletics, they need to be supported and guided to grow in the sport.

Gender-based violence popped up again as one of the problems that athletes face. Couples who are runners were advised to seek counselling to solve the problems they face.

“Since we started these forums, we have asked athletes to seek help from relevant offices to avoid being duped and dumped or even killed. It is unfortunate that last month we lost former World Cross Country Championship winner Agnes Tirop was killed,” she said.

Keitany said after concluding the consultative forums, her sub-committee members will meet and discuss how the federation can come up with a kitty to help upcoming athletes because lack of resources is a major factor in the predicament athletes are facing.

She said that the federation should designate senior, friendly chaperones to attend female athletes going through a rough patch.

“Female athletes are usually shy and they remain silent even when they are hurting. We require more chaperones and female coaches who can encourage them to open up before the situation gets worse,” said Keitany.

“A number of them have open up about their problems during the meetings we are holding and we have been enlightened. We also have a suggestion box for those who are not free to talk.”
The next meeting will be in Nyeri, followed by Nyahururu and Nyandarua County, then there will be a break during the weekend.

In the second round of meetings, athletics officials will visit Bomet, Kisii, Kericho and Keringet (Nakuru). Thereafter, the team will move to Eldama Ravine in Baringo County, Kaptagat and Iten in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

AK officials will then tour Kaptama in Mount Elgon, Bungoma County, Kapenguria in West Pokot County and Kapsabet in Nandi County before wrapping up the exercise in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

AK President Jack Tuwei said that the federation chose a different approach in the engagement with athletes this year in order to address issues at the grassroots. He said they will be acted upon and there will be a follow up.

“We realised that a big number of athletes were left out during previous engagements that, is why we are going to the regions,” said Tuwei.

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