Fiasco, what fiasco? We Nock-ed down millions for watching Games
edited: Monday, August 20, 2012
By Mwiti -o- M'Marete
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012
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Analysis of the peformance of Team Kenya in the 2012 London Olympic Games against the background of reports of ineptness and corruption on the part of the sports and government officials in charge. First published in the 'Daily Nation', Thursday, August 16, 2012.
Critics of Kenya’s performance in the 2012 London Olympic Games ought to go slow on the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and wait for the ‘technical report’.
I don’t understand the furore emanating from our very successful outing – unless there’s something terribly wrong with the computation of Olympic medals.
Just do the math:
There are countries whose national anthem has never been sung at an Olympics – such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who returned from London with an empty basket.
Tanzania last won a medal in 1980. Nigeria (170 million people), Ghana and Cameroon football wizards fired wide to miss the London flight while their compatriots went back home empty-handed.
With a population of just 40 million, Kenya amassed a bullion of a staggering 11 medals. Eleven, with two gold. Imagine.
We were 28th on the table, a hair’s breadth behind South Africa, who topped the continent despite a measly six medals, beating Kenya by a gold, on 24th. Perennial rivals Ethiopia, whose newfound final kick in the distance races put them at par with the Rainbow Nation on gold count, followed, despite being one higher on the tally.
‘Uncle Sam’ topped the global medal table with a tally of just 104, some 46 of them gold. But then, USA is an entire continent of 50 states – translating to 2.08 medals per state, 0.92 of them gold. Kenya is smaller than some American states.
Our Indian friends, a whole billion of them, could not win a single gold medal, settling for two silver and four bronze to lie at a lowly 55th overall!
Even the British, despite the ‘12th man’ advantage, could only manage 29 gold for a total of 65. Well, it turned out to be their best showing ever, reinforcing my unequivocal support for calls to stage those Games in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and … new-kid-on-the-block Lodwar. And Isiolo.
Who said poor facilities? Oh, tell me another. Mo Farah raked up two gold medals for the hosts yet in Somalia, where he was born, all the stadiums were bombed out by Al Shabaab. In other news, the war-torn Somalia competed in the London Games.
Again, what can one do with a shoestring budget of half a billion shillings only in such an expensive city, bearing in mind the exchange rates?
And with athletes who can’t live up to the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” – and decide to dance to Emily Chepchumba on the track instead of running – does a coach really have an option?
That’s why a marathon dark horse could pass our runners unnoticed – yet he was a dark horse – and go on to win Uganda its second Olympic gold – after 40 years. (Forgive my jealousy but this Kiprotich should undergo a DNA test; he must be Kenyan.)
Yes, some athletes did win medals, but they were just doing their job anyway.
Also, forget the six gold medals from Beijing. When our rivals made the mistake of shunning ‘Made in China’, we decided to help ourselves to the loot.
Our main success in London was, however, off the field. The officials guarding the athletes from journalistic ‘muggers’ in the Athletes Village nearly starved. Imagine a person surviving on a daily allowance of a measly Sh25,000 for 40 days.
The organisers had hoodwinked them to believe that meals, accommodation and first class travel taken care of, watching the Games, eating exotic food and sleeping in the chilly temperate weather which even the choiciest of the centuries-old scotch cannot warm would be a walk in Uhuru Park.
Such were the adverse conditions they were subjected to, poor souls, yet Kenyans with peculiar habits complain. In Rio we shall atone for our cruelty to the patriotic compatriots by ensuring they get the sandiest of the Copacabana beach to themselves so that they deliver even less medals.
After all, medals do significanly add to the luggage – and airlines charge per kilo in the scarce foreign currency.
AISI Media Award winner Mwiti Marete is a sub editor with the Daily Nation