Paris here we come!... Belt up and get ready for another exciting ride

Mercy Moim

Mercy Moim is fitted with a training tracking device by Malkia Strikers’ strength and conditioning trainer Marcelo Vitorino de Souza at the team’s training in Kurume on July 15, 2021. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • It’s despicable that each time we make two steps forward, we retreat five steps back.
  • It will be interesting to see how the officials handle the Games’ post-mortem.

Every Olympic Games cycle, the Kenyan sports circus hits the streets and clowns emerge from the woodwork. We are forced to live with joyriders and stare at bloated Games budgets.

Incoherent travel arrangements are thrust upon us, and the same later used to mitigate Team Kenya’s resultant, less-than-impressive medal tally.

We are fast closing in on the 60-day mark in the countdown to Paris 2024 and the circus is out, and in full throttle. Credit to the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) who, since the arrival of the Paul Tergat regime, have battled gallantly to rein in the jokers.

But the clowns of 2024 have bolted, and are in full gear, practicing acts they will unleash in the French capital that will make comedians at Disneyland Paris green with envy.

The jugglers are perfecting their act as the gravy train picks up steam, carrying along the usual suspects on its journey to the Olympic Village. All of a sudden, individuals “crucial to the Olympic cause” are stamping their visas and joining the per diem queue.

It’s despicable that each time we make two steps forward, we retreat five steps back.

We never learn from previous fiascos.

It’s a sick joke. Not funny anymore…

Olympic Qualification

Meanwhile, today, a team of 10 boxers and officials travels to Bangkok for the second World Olympic Qualification tournament that runs from this Thursday to June 3.

Bantamweight Amina Martha, welterweight Friza Anyango, middleweight Elizabeth Andiego, light-middleweight Boniface Mogunde, light heavyweight Edwin Okong’o and heavyweight Peter Abuti are on the Bangkok-bound flight to fight for the limited tickets available for Paris.

This after Kenya failed to qualify boxers at last year’s Africa Boxing Qualifiers in Dakar, and the first World Olympic Qualification tournament in Italy in February-March.

After the Bangkok tournament, where our boxers stand limited chances of making it to Paris, Kenyan boxing will now wait for the decision next month on who will earn the nine “universality” wild cards available globally to the Olympics (five women and four men).

Nick Okoth

Kenya's 'Hit Squad' captain Nick Okoth is congratulated by Kenya's head coach Benjamin Moses (right) and David Munuhe after winning a bout. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The decision will be made by June 7 to allow for the draw for the July 27 – August 10 Olympic boxing competition to be staged at Roland Garros.

Travelling with the six boxers to Thailand today are four officials: Anthony Ombok Otieno (team manager), David Munuhe (deputy head coach), John Waweru (trainer) and Benjamin Moses (head coach).

Curiously, all four are also Boxing Federation of Kenya executive committee officials, working extremely hard to multi-task — Otieno being the federation’s President, Munuhe the Secretary General, Waweru Competitions’ Secretary and Benjamin the federation’s Treasurer.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) also recently released their list of officials to manage the already-qualified national women’s volleyball team, “Malkia Strikers”, at the Paris Olympics.

And like the boxers, some of the volleyball executives are doubling up, with KVF President Charles Nyaberi the team manager and his Deputy President, Paul Bitok, assistant coach.

Conflict of interest

Japheth Munala is head coach and ex-international Janet Wanja an assistant coach.

But, to his credit, Bitok has since stepped down citing his appointment as, inter alia, “a conflict of interest.” He can’t be Vice President and Assistant Coach at the same time…

Alarm bells were triggered at the KVF when the federation jettisoned the Brazilian technical team of head coach Luizomar de Moura, Roberto Opice “Beto” Neto (Team Manager), Jefferson Arosti (assistant coach), Marcelo de Souza (strength and conditioning coach), Leonard Barbos (Statistician) and Thiago Lessa Moreira (Physiotherapist).

This as the federation also terminated a Sh88 million empowerment programme financed by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) that, among other things, sought to enhance the technical development of the Kenyan game.

KVF argued that they needed a local bench and that the Brazilians were stifling local coaching talent, adding that the federation didn’t need FIVB’s empowerment programme either. But the KVF is yet to unveil its alternative development programmes.

Having spent time with the six Brazilians at the “Malkia Strikers” pre-Olympic camp in Kurume, Japan, in 2021 and at the subsequent Tokyo Olympics, I can vouch for their huge contribution to the development of our game, technically-speaking.

Certainly, they helped elevate our rudimentary ways to technology-driven training methods that helped bring Malkia Strikers inch closer to the elites.

Latest technology

As team manager, President Nyaberi will have to employ the latest technology, and continue from where TM Opice “Beto” Neto and co. left, including improving on the “Catapult” GPS player tracker training technology the Brazilians adopted to monitor players’ speed, jumps, efficiency and endurance, making available real-time data.

He will then be expected to table his technical report from the Games before his executive committee, which he chairs…

While I wish our boxing and volleyball teams well in their build-up to Paris, it will be interesting to see how the officials handle the Games’ post-mortem, and if they will replace their technical benches (themselves) on the road to the Los Angeles 2028 Games.

Perhaps Athletics Kenya should borrow a leaf from the volleyball and boxing federations and appoint it’s President as Head Coach, Treasurer as Assistant Coach and Vice-President as Trainer of our national athletics team to the Paris Olympics.

By doubling up as executives and technical bench officials, these federation executives will save the taxpayer a tidy sum of hard-earned cash that would have been used to hire expensive coaches and trainers.

And they will be answerable to no-one but themselves after the Paris Games, sorry, circus. C’est la vie…

Makori is the Lead Editor (Sports) at Nation Media Group. [email protected]