Nyahururu Stadium faded gem of Kenya’s sparkling athletics history
What you need to know:
- The 2001 world 10,000m champion Charles Kamathi who ended Ethiopian track legend Haile Gebrselassie’s unbeaten streak of 37 races also used the stadium.
- Others are former national 10,000m champion Bedan Karoki, Julius Ndegwa and Mary Wangari.
- Two years ago, Athletics Kenya Laikipia County branch proposed that stadium be renamed Samuel Wanjiru Stadium.
For decades, Nyahururu in Laikipia County has produced big names in athletics. But the only sports facility in the town — Nyahururu Stadium — has been neglected.
When you visit the stadium, which lies 2,300 metres above sea level, you are welcomed by a rusty old metallic gate.
Built on 10 acres, the dilapidated stadium has six volleyball pitches, a netball pitch, two football pitches, and a basketball court that is full of potholes.
The athletics track is in a deplorable condition and athletes cannot use it when it rains. Pools of water stagnate on the football pitch and on the track because of a poor drainage system.
The changing rooms, which are made of iron sheets, have not seen a coat of paint for over 30 years. The changing rooms made of timber recently fell apart due to lack of maintenance.
The stadium was last renovated in 2015 when the county government announced that it had spent Sh2.7 million to reroof the VIP pavilion and adjacent stands. Since then, no money has been allocated in the budget for renovation of the facility.
During the rainy season, athletes suspend their training due to the poor drainage at the stadium and move to nearby schools.
“When it rains the field gets flooded and the track gets muddy, it takes a long time to dry because of the huge trees surrounding stadium that shield the sun,” said Purity Wangui an athlete who trains at the stadium.
Athletes who spoke to Nation Sport said that they are prone to injuries because of the poor state of the track. They also decried the lack of basic amenities.
“At one time we had to pool resources to build a temporary toilet because the county government had failed to renovate the existing ones,” said veteran coach Robert Kioni.
Lawrence Miano, who managed the facility during the time of the defunct Nyahururu Municipal Council, said the stadium last had proper renovation twice in 1992 and 1997 when it hosted the then Kenya Inter Municipality Sports and Cultural Association (Kimsca) games — the precursor of Kenya Inter Counties Sports and Cultural Association (Kicosca).
Miano said initially the stadium land was 11 acres but some powerful individuals grabbed part of it.
A taskforce looking into the state of Laikipia County stadiums recently held a public participation forum. Participants urged the county government to improve Nyahururu Stadium, and sportspersons lamented about lack of equipment for training and competition.
Aspires Football Team, All Stars and Griffon Football — which participate in County League and the Division 2 League — use Nyahururu Stadium as their home ground. Nyahururu Volleyball Team, which is unbeaten in the county, also trains at the same venue.
Laikipia County acting County Executive Committee member for Youth and Sports Stephen Kisorio told Nation Sport on Saturday that Sh2 million has been allocated for renovation of the stadium.
He said the money will be used for improving the track and sanitation facilities in readiness for the Rift Valley Secondary Schools Regional Term Two Games scheduled for next month.
“The money has been allocated and the work will start in the next two weeks,” said Kisorio.
He said that a fresh layer of murram will be laid on the track as requested by the runners, and further improvement will be done in the next financial year in partnership with the national government.
Nyahururu Stadium hosted the national team that represented Kenya at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, three-time world steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui, multiple record breaker Daniel Komen, five-time world cross country champion John Ngugi and Kenya’s first Olympic marathon gold medallist Samuel Wanjiru.
William Sigei, who won two world cross country titles (1993 and 1994) and also set a new world record in 10,000m of 26:52.23 minutes in Oslo in1994 also trained at Nyahururu Stadium.
Another notable runner, former world cross country champion Joseph Ebuya started his running career at the stadium where he used to practice after hawking charcoal at his father’s business in Nyahururu town.
The 2001 world 10,000m champion Charles Kamathi, who ended Ethiopian track legend Haile Gebrselassie’s unbeaten streak of 37 races, also used the stadium.
Others are former national 10,000m champion Bedan Karoki, Julius Ndegwa and Mary Wangari.
Two years ago, Athletics Kenya Laikipia County branch proposed that stadium be renamed Samuel Wanjiru Stadium.
Tomorrow: Upgrading of Afraha Stadium falls behind schedule. But the historic stadium is taking shape after the multi-million-shilling project began in 2021.