What you need to know:
- Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba disclosed that he had signed a partnership agreement with the Cuban government for the month-long camps that will compliment another arrangement between the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and French authorities for pre-Olympics training camps in the French Riviera region of Miramas.
Kenya has signed a partnership with Cuba that will see Kenya’s Olympic athletes travel to Havana for pre-Games training camps in boxing, volleyball and athletics (sprints).
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba disclosed that he had signed a partnership agreement with the Cuban government for the month-long camps that will compliment another arrangement between the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and French authorities for pre-Olympics training camps in the French Riviera region of Miramas.
Opening a Paris 2024 Olympic Games Planning and Strategy retreat in Nakuru on Thursday, Namwamba said, in return, Cuban athletes will be invited for high altitude training in the Rift Valley.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” the CS said while stressing the need for early preparations and underscoring the importance of the Olympic Games in the community of nations.
“We cannot emphasise enough the importance of early preparations. Previously, we have paid the heavy price for the classical Kenyan thing of last-minute preparations,” Namwamba said.
“But I’m glad that the National Olympic Committee has learnt from these previous mistakes.
“Let us not forget the history of the Olympics and what these Games have done for us as a nation in terms of branding and visibility.”
In 2018, then Sports CS Rashid Echesa signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his Cuban counterpart Antonio Eduardo Becali Garrido for a similar exchange that, however, did not take off the ground.
Interestingly, a similar exchange in the health sector saw about 50 Cuban doctors sent to Kenya with as many Kenyan medical practitioners also travelling to Havana for training amid concerns from the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union over the viability of the programme.
Cuba is celebrated for the success of its amateur boxers with legends from the Havana ring including Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, winners of three Olympic gold medals each.
In track and field, four-time world long jump champion Ivan Pedroso, high jumper Javier Sotomayor and 1976 Olympic 400 and 800 metres champion Alberto Juantorena stand out.
NOC-K President Paul Tergat flashed back on how lack of pre-competition intelligence affected his international debut at the 1992 World Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.
“Coming from a hot region (Baringo), I arrived in Boston and temperatures were freezing… My body was in shock and I couldn’t even make it to the starting line,” Tergat reminisced.
“We don’t want our athletes today to go through the same challenges and that’s why we need early preparations,” Tergat, a two-time Olympic 10,000 metres silver medallist and five-time World Cross Country Championships senior race winner, said.
Tergat, who also held the world marathon record (two hours, four minutes and 55 seconds in 2003) appealed for early gazettement of the Team Kenya Paris 2024 Steering Committee and Central Management Committee for the Olympics “to help unlock the process and resources that would enhance the pathway to the Games.”
The two-day Paris 2024 Olympic Games Planning and Strategy retreat brings together officials from NOC-K and Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports.
Kenya intends to send 100 athletes to the July 26 to August 11 Paris Olympics, an increase from the 87 that travelled to Tokyo for the last Olympics in 2021.
In his address, Namwamba once again stressed the need to step up the fight against the doping menace in Kenya.
“We must confront the beast of doping head-on, unapologetically and unequivocally. We have a very good blueprint in confronting doping and the government has committed five million dollars over five years (about Sh700 million) to aid in the war against doping,” he noted, adding that Kenya must also remain ahead in championing the use of sports to drum up the fight against climate change.