Key lessons for Kenya from Commonwealth Games

Wiseman Mukhobe, Mike Mokamba, William Rayian

Kenya’s 4x400 metres relay bronze medallists (from right to left) Wiseman Mukhobe, Mike Mokamba, William Rayian and Boniface Mweresa pose during the medal ceremony at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on August 7, 2022.

Photo credit: Ben Stansall | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Mutuku noted that Kenya had some of the youngest team like in hockey, 3x3 basketball and swimming as he called for change in teams like boxing.
  • "You feel encourage with what the sprinters have done. The team's fighting sport was high clearly exhibited when Were threw himself across the line," said Mutuku, adding that preparation for 2024 Olympics must start immediately.

In Birmingham

It was yet another learning curve for Team Kenya as the country collected 21 medals; six gold, five silver and 10 bronze at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games that ended yesterday in Birmingham.

The modern facilities, virtually in all the Games’ venues, left most of the Kenyan athletes in awe and their more superior opponents had to school them.

Apart from athletics that was one of the three disciplines the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) had earmarked for medals, the rest of the sports performed below par.

Swimming and boxing that previously earned Kenya medals fell below expectations with major lessons coming through after the two disciplines presented lean teams.

Kenya had 127 sportsmen and women in Birmingham positioned for medals in athletics, swimming and boxing. The remaining 18 disciplines were just for participation and exposure.

Former javelin champion Julius Yego won a bronze medal on the final day of action in the athletics programme at the Alexander Stadium on Sunday.

Overall, Kenya finished 13th and third in Africa in the medal standings. Australia once again topped the standings with 177 medals; 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze.

Nigeria was the best placed nation in Africa at seventh place with 35 medals; 12 gold, nine silver and 14 bronze and are followed by South Africa with 27 medals; seven gold, nine silver and 11 bronze.

But Kenya emerged the best in Africa in athletics, after having finished third overall behind Australia and England.

Once again athletics proved Kenya’s main harvest field at the Games to produce all the medals save for one — bronze — from Hellen Wawira in para powerlifting.

While Kenya might have improved in performance from the 2018 Gold Coast Games in Australia where they collected 17 medals; four gold, seven silver and six bronze, the country is gradually losing out in their largely perceived traditional events.

The highlights of the championship were Ferdinand Omanyala’s historic victory in the 100 metres race before Jackline Chepkoech blew away the field in women’s 3,000m steeplechase to win in a new Games record.

Beatrice Chepkoech’s gallant display to ensure Kenya retained the women’s 5,000m title with Wycliffe Kinyamal’s successful title defence 800m were by no means great achievements.

The golden dancing girl Mary Moraa’s outstanding show to recapture the women’s 800m title for Kenya, adding the gold to her bronze collected from World Athletics Championship in Oregon, was simply amazing.

Abraham Kibiwott’s victory that saw Kenya protect its 3,000m steeplechase tradition after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Oregon World Athletics Championships heartbreaks, was a timely consolation.

By reaching their respective finals to finish fourth, Boniface Mweresa (400m) and Wiseman Were (400m hurdles) showed the country can perfome well in sprints.

That the quartet of Mweresa, Wiseman, Mike Mokamba and William Rayan claimed bronze in 4x400m drives the point home, with Africa 400m bronze medallist Veronica Mutua( 400m) and Millicent Ndoro (200m) reaching the semi-finals of their respective events.

Athletics head coach Julius Kirwa said even though the performance surpassed 2018 Gold Coast, it could have been much better if athletes reported on time for residential training in Nairobi.

“The relationship between coaches and athletes in Birmingham was cordial and I want to congratulate every day for their corporation.

“The only shortcoming was at home where it’s only sprinters who reported and a handful of others like Beatrice Chebet,” said Kirwa. “We just met others here or at the airport.”

Kenya's 4x100m mixed relay swimming team might have finished eighth in the final, but they had already made history.

Imara Bella Thorpe and Emily Muteti partnered with Ridhwan Abubakar and Maina Monyo to set a new national record of three minutes and 43.33 seconds finishing eighth in the final.

“We leave with our heads high having reached our first mixed relay final in a national record time. We also had some swimmers set personal best times,” said team manageress Jen Maina.

“We had a young team with three of them on their first outing for Kenya.”

“This formed a good platform as we built a team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games,” explained Maina.

Chef de mission John Ogolla and NOC-K secretary general Francis Mutuku said that the performance good but it could have been better.

Ogolla said they will have to review the games critically basing on the number of athletes presented and the stages they reached in their respective events.

“We have picked a lot of lessons here which we must act upon for future games.

“In my view, the technical aspect of the game is where we fall short. Our physical and elementary position is good but our strategy and execution are what weighed us in,” said Ogolla, who singled out sprinters saying they have potential tom perform if a separate program was crafted for them.

Ogolla acknowledged that they faced challenges in athletes’ entries, doping cases and equipment, which will have to be addressed moving forward.

Mutuku noted that Kenya had some of the youngest team like in hockey, 3x3 basketball and swimming as he called for change in teams like boxing.

"You feel encourage with what the sprinters have done. The team's fighting sport was high clearly exhibited when Were threw himself across the line," said Mutuku, adding that preparation for 2024 Olympics must start immediately.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.