NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – Five elite athletes led by world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot on Monday received scholarship cheques from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K).
NOC-K chief Paul Tergat while visiting athletes at their training camps in Eldoret, handed the scholarship cheques that is worth Sh400,000 each to 800m Commonwealth Games gold medallist Wycliffe Kinyamal, 10,000m Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Rodgers Kwemoi, Emily Cherotich, 800m Diamond League winner Ferguson Rotich, and Cheruiyot.
Tergat, who paid a courtesy call to Uasin Gishu County, Governor Jackson Mandago, checked up on the athletes’ Olympics preparations.
Tergat was accompanied in Eldoret by NOC-K Ag. Secretary General, Francis Mutuku, Athletes Representative Humphrey Kayange and General Team manager of Tokyo Olympics, Barnabas Korir.
They were also joined by Patrick Sang, the elite long-distance coach, who runs a training camp in Kaptagat, one of the centres that the NOC-K boss visited.
“There is nothing that gives us more joy as a Board than seeing our athletes succeed. We want to assure you that we will work together as stakeholders, to ensure that all athletes are well prepared for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. We are pursuing all available opportunities to support our athletes, including scholarships such as the ones we are issuing to you today. We are also encouraging all athletes to think about the future and visualize what you will do after you retire.’’
Kayange, the NOC-K athlete’s representative, encouraged the athletes to use the athletes commission to articulate their issues.
“As a commission and as a Board, we are trying ensure that the athletes focus on their performance and goals. We are therefore promoting programs that continue to improve the management of athletes.’’
Reiterating what Tergat said, Kayange informed the athletes that the Athletes Commission is also planning programs to support athletes during their career as well as when they transit to a post sports career.
Patrick Sang on his part urged NOC-K to continue identifying and supporting more athletes with scholarships to take care of their training needs since they need all the support they can get as they prepare for the Olympic Games.
He urged media to ‘project the positive side of the sports, the hard work, the team work that goes into participation at Games such as Olympics. As the media you will play a key role for the team at the Tokyo 2020 Games,’ mentioned Sang who is the coach of Olympic marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge.
The General Team manager, Korir, also an Executive Member of Athletics Kenya assured the country that the athletes who have qualified and who will go for qualification events have been chosen based on their performance and they are going not only for participation, but also to win medals for Kenya.
Vivian Cheruiyot, the 5,000m Olympic Champion, speaking to fellow athletes encouraged them.
“We are going through a tough period, as athletes we must ensure that for every shilling, we get we don’t spend all of it but save some of it.’ Sports people were one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, when all competitions and training where they earn their living was halted for close to a year. The government came into the rescue, cushioning them with a stimulus package in July 2020.”
The Governor was happy to receive the NOC-K delegation and requested them to nature talent in other sports disciplines that the youth engage in.
“The County Government of Uasin Gishu will work closely with NOC-K to develop technical expertise of sports administrators at this level. We are also requesting Sports Kenya to fast-track completion of sports stadia within Uasin Gishu for use by the Olympic teams.”
Acknowledging the incredible amount of talent in the county, he further requested that NOC-K holds the athletic trials, ‘mini Olympics’, in the county.