What you need to know:
- In readiness for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, NOCK has offered scholarships with millions of shillings to athletes and teams in various sports including athletics, volleyball, shooting, tennis, boxing, swimming, table tennis, cycling, triathlon, basketball and taekwondo.
- “We not only want to increase the numbers of athletes for the Paris Olympics but those we are supporting must be competitive enough for podium finish, “said Mutuku, adding that they are targeting more sports away from athletics and boxing that are the only disciplines to have given Kenya medals.
The journey to restructure the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) for president Paul Tergat and his lieutenants is slowly bearing fruit albeit many hurdles.
Kenya might have staged its best ever Olympics performance during the 2016 Rio Summer Games, but demons from the mismanagement of the event have taken long to exorcise.
“The journey has been interesting and difficult because it is more of culture and mindset...for instance, we got stuck in the 2016 Rio Games where the scandal overshadowed the extremely good results,” said NOC-K Secretary-General Francis Mutuku.
Mutuku, who was accompanied by NOCK Athletes Representative Humphrey Kayange, was during NTV’s Monday night live sports show SportOn!, hosted by Bernard Ndong and James Wokabi.
Tergat was elected NOCK president in September 2017 and re-elected for his final term of four years in 2021. Mutuku, who was voted in as deputy secretary general in 2017, got elected to his current position in 2021.
Mutuku explained that their aim is to focus on athletes by providing training facilities that includes the training and competition kits, travelling program, accommodation and allowances.
Kenya collected 13 medals; six gold, six silver and a bronze, surpassing its tally at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games where the country had hauled 16 medals; six gold, four silver and six bronze.
“When we came to the office, the simplest of the items we considered was putting the athlete at the centre of everything,” says Mutuku, adding that they embarked on early preparations by putting the team in camp months before the official period of 21 days before any particular games.
The appointment of the 2024 Paris Olympics management team led by the Chef de Mission Shadrack Maluki is one way to sort out managerial issues like traveling, ticketing, kitting, accommodation among others issues early enough.
“We have been trying to change the previous culture by making our affiliates understand that Olympics and Commonwealth Games preparations should be a continuous process and that they start at the end of certain editions of the games,” said Mutuku.
Mutuku said that realistically it’s not possible for a certain sport or athlete to qualify for Olympics or Commonwealth Games even if billions are put in the process at the last minute.
“Time is important in terms of development. We need to expose our sportsmen and women to competitions early enough and that needs funding. We need to bring in stakeholders that include the corporates,” said Mutuku, adding that many federations rarely focus on qualification yet that is where the opportunity is.
In readiness for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, NOCK has offered scholarships with millions of shillings to athletes and teams in various sports including athletics, volleyball, shooting, tennis, boxing, swimming, table tennis, cycling, triathlon, basketball and taekwondo.
“We not only want to increase the numbers of athletes for the Paris Olympics but those we are supporting must be competitive enough for podium finish, “said Mutuku, adding that they are targeting more sports away from athletics and boxing that are the only disciplines to have given Kenya medals.
“We are focusing on the national women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers and women’s 3x3 basketball team, whom we have given scholarships,” said Mutuku, hastening that they can have the mindset of doing everything early but funds too should be available on time.
Mutuku noted that Sports Cabinet Ababu Namwamba has promised to name the Steering Committee 365 days before the Games start.
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games scandal produced casualties including former Sport Cabinet Secretary Hassan Waruio, who was convicted by the anti-corruption court to a six-year jail term for abusing his office in connection to the Sh55 million loss.
The court, however, gave Wario an option of paying a fine of Sh3.6 million in a ruling delivered September 2021. Wario paid immediately.
Stephen arap Soi, who was the Chef De Mission of Team Kenya at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, was slapped with a Sh105 million fine or a 12 year jail term.
However, Soi, who failed to raise the fine and was sent to jail, but released in November last year after the High Court quashed his conviction.