What you need to know:
- Before the renovations started in 2017, the stadium had a murram surface and according to athletes it was the best place to train
- This is one of the facilities which the government had earmarked for renovation six years ago to a tune of Sh287 million, but to date, you are welcomed by a broken gate, a heap of soil and some weeds filled in the pitch
- In September 2020, Elgeyo Marakwet County’s development co-ordination committee suspended the works after the Funan Contractor failed to meet the set date they had agreed on with Sports Kenya
Just outside Iten town in Elgeyo Marakwet County, lies an historic place, the Kamariny Stadium, that has now become a shame despite having produced a huge number of world beaters in athletics since independence.
These world beaters include women’s only world marathon record holder Mary Keitany, former London Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei, Leonard Barsoton, former Berlin Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat, 800 metres world record holder David Rudisha, former world 5,000 metres silver medalist Sylvia Kibet and former world cross country champion Irene Cheptai.
And currently, there is also an influx of foreign athletes who have pitched camp in the area as they prepare for the various global events, including the prestigious World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.
Before the renovations started in 2017, the stadium had a murram surface and according to athletes it was the best place to train but the picture on the ground currently leaves one scratching the head and wondering what really went wrong.
During the groundbreaking, athletes were all smiles knowing that they would soon be training in a world class stadium, but they have been left to struggle on their own, depending on one facility — the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret — which is also a never-ending construction site.
Awarded the tender
This is one of the facilities which the government had earmarked for renovation six years ago to a tune of Sh287 million, but to date, you are welcomed by a broken gate, a heap of soil and some weeds filled in the pitch.
On the eastern wing of the stadium are terraces that were built by the county government before the project was taken over by the national government for renovation. There are also changing rooms at the back of the terraces which have been locked.
The contractor who had been awarded the tender excavated and levelled the field and the track but was ordered to leave the site before starting the construction of the VIP pavilion.
The works included football pitch, laying of a synthetic track, VIP pavilion, which included the changing rooms, conference rooms and a car park.
On the eastern part of the stadium are terraces that were built by the county government before the project was taken over by the national government.
In September 2020, Elgeyo Marakwet County’s development co-ordination committee suspended the works after the Funan Contractor failed to meet the set date they had agreed on with Sports Kenya.
The contractor was then ordered to vacate the facility for failing to live up to the expectations and since then nothing has been ongoing in the site.
Purity Koima, the County Executive for Sports and Youth Affairs in Elgeyo Marakwet County, hails the region for being the county of champions and being one of the areas that has been in the lead in producing world beaters.
The stadium is iconic and locals have high hopes that the national government will intervene and help complete the facility to save the athletes the agony they have been going through in search for training areas.
“We just hope the government will speed up the construction of the facility which is now painting a bad picture in Iten. We have more than 3,000 athletes who have been training in this area but they are forced to seek other venues for their training which is a bad picture,” said Koima.
The county government and the department of sports intervened and graded the track. “Our governor Wisley Rotich and the department of sports looked at it and we thought, how can we make the Kamariny Stadium a little bit usable. We just moved in did some grading and we are planning to add murram so that they can use it for speed work,” said the CEC.
“We are calling upon the national government to consider ours as the first stadium to be handled because we are the home of champions. We really look forward to seeing the Kamariny Stadium in good state,” said Koima.
The Elgeyo Marakwet County Government has been constructing running trails along the road and are looking forward to doing more. They have partnered with the forest department to map out these running trails.
Koima added that they have started a programme with high schools where they look forward to mentoring athletes.
USA’s Kenyan-born Olympic 5,000 metres bronze medalist Paul Chelimo has been training in Kenya for the last few months, struggling to get good facilities.
He lauded the governor for grading and levelling of the Kamariny Stadium saying that it will help some athletes who cannot travel to Uasin Gishu for training.
“We normally come to Kenya for training and lack of a good facility across the North Rift is just a pity… the government needs to do a lot and help the athletes.
“It reached a point where athletes wanted to do something themselves but I think it wasn’t possible. I’m always here to train and for real we need good facilities,” said Chelimo, who is preparing for the World Championships in Budapest.
Tomorrow: National government to partner with Homa Bay County to complete Sh369 million Homa Bay Stadium.