Now they are in President Ruto’s backyard, surely, works at Kip Keino, Kamariny stadiums must be completed!

Jonathan Bii Chelilim

Uasin Gishu County Governor Jonathan Bii Chelilim (right), Nation Media Group’s Sports Editor Elias Makori (second right) and other athletics fans take part in a street race in Eldoret on October 2, 2022.





Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • After all, they say that contractors handling projects in any sitting Head of State’s backyard usually work feverishly round the clock and never mind contributing part of their fees to a project “of the president’s choice.”
  • It was reassuring to hear Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii’s declaration on Sunday that his government would do whatever it takes to honour our athletes and to ensure the Kipchoge Keino and 64 stadiums are fully renovated.

Last weekend, Kenyans celebrated yet another major sporting triumph when perennial bridesmaid Amos Kipruto finally stepped out of the shadows to lay claim to his own World Marathon Majors title by clinching the London honours in spectacular fashion, clocking two hours, four minutes and 39 seconds on his debut in the English capital.

Kenyans also did well in the women’s race when title holder Joyciline Jepkosgei (2:18:07) put up a strong fight to finish second behind Ethiopia’s rising star Yalemzerf Yehualaw (2:17:26), who crossed the finish line just three seconds shy of her personal best time in only the second marathon for the world 10-kilometre road race record holder (29:14).

Initially drafted as a pacemaker, but only elevated to the elite field after the injury-enforced withdrawal of training partner and world record holder Brigid Kosgei, World Championships silver medallist Judith Korir (2:18:43) did exceptionally well to finish fourth as the third Kenyan in the mix, Mary Wacera Ngugi, also dug in with a personal best of 2:20:22.

Meanwhile, Kenya-born Joan Chelimo, who recently switched allegiance to Romania, was fifth in 2:19:27.

And these were not the only winning runs by Kenyan athletes globally at the weekend!

At the 98th Kosice Peace Marathon in Slovakia (Europe’s oldest marathon, run continuously since 1924), Nyahururu-based Reuben Kerio won the men’s race in 2:07:16 with compatriot Margaret Akai taking the women’s title in a course record 2:24:04.

In Melbourne, Timothy Rono (2:09:12) and Beatrice Cheptoo (2:27:58) completed a Kenyan double Down Under with Dominic Mibei (2:14:13), Simon Njeri (2:14:21) and veteran Rodgers Gesabwa (2:16:57) taking the men’s titles at the Brussels Airport, Mytho and Qeretaro marathons in Belgium, Italy and Mexico, respectively.

There were further Kenyan doubles in Skopje (North Macedonia) and Jersey through Onesmus Kiplagat (2:18:12) and Catherine Cherotich (2:38:41) alongside Bernard Kipkemoi (2:21:09) and Lydia Wafula (2:45:02), respectively.

Not to mention Eliud Kipsang Meli’s (2:21:21) victory at South Africa’s Rand Water Vaal City Marathon.

And these are just but a few, with many other Kenyan triumphs recorded in the half marathons and various road races globally all in one weekend.

These victories come days after Eliud Kipchoge had the Kenyan anthem played in Berlin after his world record run (2:01:09) and on Sunday, he was chief guest at the London Marathon where he planted the first tree in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II to launch Greenwich Park’s “Living Hall of Fame.”

Of these triumphant elite athletes, 99.9 percent live and train in the North Rift, principally in Iten, Kapsabet, Kaptagat and Kapsait.

Kipchoge Keino Stadium

Sections of the worn out tartan track at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 26, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Today (Tuesday), hundreds of these elites will converge on the dilapidated Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret for their speed-work, avoiding the potholes on Lane One as they work patiently in shifts to get the coaches’ programmes done for the day before they move on to their long runs and other weekly drills.

For all the glory their have brought to the country, and for all the hard work they put in, the training conditions of our athletes never seem to be a priority to government.

Early in 2013, Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba announced that Kipchoge Keino Stadium’s refurbishment would be complete by March of that year.

Ababu returns on another spell in charge of the sports docket, almost a decade later, and the stadium is still under construction!

Kipchoge Keino Stadium

Sections of the worn out tartan track at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 26, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Well, this time round, things many have taken a turn for the better, hopefully, with Eldoret resident and home-grown hustler William Ruto now the Fifth President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.

And in tow is Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, now Cabinet Secretary-designate in charge of Roads, in whose docket multi-million-shilling graders and earth-moving equipment will fall.

Surely, no one will blame the president and his Cabinet Secretary if they decreed that works at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium and Elgeyo-Marakwet’s Kamariny Stadium be completed by the first quarter of 2023!

Kipchoge Keino

Athletes train on a worn out tartan track at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 26, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

After all, they say that contractors handling projects in any sitting Head of State’s backyard usually work feverishly round the clock and never mind contributing part of their fees to a project “of the president’s choice.”

It was reassuring to hear Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii’s declaration on Sunday that his government would do whatever it takes to honour our athletes and to ensure the Kipchoge Keino and 64 stadiums are fully renovated.

Governor Bii’s passion for sport cannot be challenged.

No wonder he defeated me, hands down, in a street race in Eldoret during our NTV street viewing party for the London Marathon on Sunday.

I now challenge Governor Bii to another race, over 200 metres, in a fully refurbished, fully functional Kip Keino Stadium, under the floodlights, in the first quarter of 2023.

If he wins, I will make a donation to a charity of his choice. If the race happens at all (in a fully refurbished, fully functional Kip Keino Stadium, under the floodlights, in the first quarter of 2023), then I will also make donation to a charity of his choice.

Surely, projects in the Commander-in-Chief’s backyard should never be allowed to stall!

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