Julius Yego

AP

Report shows level of chaos in Kenya Olympic team

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — It’s truly astonishing that Kenya had its most successful Olympics ever at this year’s Rio de Janeiro Games after a government-ordered report revealed Tuesday the team’s chaotic preparation and management.

Among the many revelations in the 90-page report seen by The Associated Press: There was a brawl among members of the women’s rugby team over how their prize money should be split, the race walking team wasn’t given any track shoes, many of the athletes received uniforms that didn’t fit, while some didn’t get any and had to provide their own. And the medical officials tending to Kenya’s top sports stars in case of serious injury had to travel between the spread-out Rio venues on shuttle buses meant for journalists and which only went every 30 minutes — and sometimes took over an hour to get to an arena.

Also, members of the team began their final preparations for the world’s biggest sports event at a “High Performance Training Center” back home owned by the head of the Olympic committee, and which had a gym only big enough for three people to be in it at any one time, the report said.

But along with the incompetence and mismanagement on a grand scale — stunning for a country that outperformed the United States and Jamaica at last year’s athletics world championships — the report committee raised serious concerns over the possible misappropriation by senior sports officials of millions of dollars in money and athlete apparel provided by team sponsor Nike.

Those race walkers may not have got their Nike shoes because officials stole them.

The investigation was ordered at the end of August by the sports minister after allegations of corruption being rife at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), which was disbanded after Rio amid allegations that some of the $5.7 million Olympic budget was stolen.

Since the committee began its investigation, Kenya’s Olympic team leader has been charged with stealing $256,000 and three other senior Olympic committee officials – two vice presidents and the secretary general – face charges of stealing boxes of Nike apparel that were meant for athletes. One VP was arrested hiding under his bed in an apartment filled with brand new Nike equipment.

Because those cases are in court, the report couldn’t refer to them. But there was plenty more investigators could reveal.

They demanded that NOCK account for how it has used the $714,000 it’s been given every year by Nike since 2013, and where the $520,000 worth of apparel it received every year has gone. There don’t appear to be records.

Also, some of Kenya’s top athletes, including track and field world champions Asbel Kiprop, Julius Yego and Ezekiel Kemboi, may have been cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars in Nike bonuses due to them for winning medals at major competitions, bonuses they have not received from Kenyan officials, according to the report.

Despite the level of ineptitude, and allegedly worse, from those officials, Kenya somehow still won six golds and 13 medals in total in Rio. The track and field team was second on the table behind the U.S.

“The (investigating) committee would like to express concern over serious management inadequacies, poor planning and financial impropriety that affected what would have been an even greater performance,” the report said. “The committee would like to thank our sportsmen and women, their coaches and the honest officials for pulling off Kenya’s best ever performance at the Olympics despite the glaring management inadequacies that they had to endure.”

All of Kenya’s athletes, even their best, appeared to have been affected.

Yego, the javelin world champion who won silver at the Rio Olympics, was one example.

Yego was based at the so-called High Performance Training Center with the tiny gym in the buildup to the Olympics. He paid to join a nearby private gym that had better equipment. Yego was put in the high altitude town of Eldoret, where heavy rain at that time of year can wash away roads and he was often unable to travel to the stadium to train. Even when he got to the stadium, Yego had to deal with the fact that the javelin runway was about seven meters shorter than the standard length. When Yego got to the airport to travel to Rio, there was no plane ticket for him.

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Some other revelations in the report:

— The men’s rugby sevens team went on a three-week high-altitude training camp, but returned to the capital Nairobi for a week and then traveled to Rio, which is at sea level, two weeks before their competition, nullifying any benefit from the high-altitude training.

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Marathon runner Wesley Korir left a pre-Olympics training camp without permission to travel to Canada and run in the Ottawa Marathon as a pace-setter for his wife on May 29. The exertion led to him dropping out halfway through the Olympic marathon.

Korir said the Ottawa Marathon was before the training camp, and he was given permission to leave, according to the Daily Nation in Kenya. His wife, Canadian Tarah McKay, ran 2:35:46 with Korir pacing her, six minutes shy of Canada’s Olympic qualifying standard time.

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Following the women’s rugby team’s brawl in an airport on the way home from Rio, team officials lied and said the players were fighting “over a man.” Players later admitted it was over prize money promised them by the Kenyan government.

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The sports ministry paid nearly $900,000 more than it should have for 330 plane tickets to Rio, mostly for officials, after a company was hired just to do the bookings.

MORE: Keitany three-peats at NYC Marathon

Top ten storylines from World Track and Field Championships

Usain Bolt, Mo Farah
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The top ten storylines from the World Track and Field Championships, the sport’s most prestigious competition outside of the Olympics:

10. American learns valuable lesson

Molly Huddle made the mistake of celebrating too early in the 10,000m. As she approached the finish line, she eased up and raised both of her arms. This allowed fellow American Emily Infeld to pass her on the inside and claim the bronze medal by .09 of a second (video here).

“I feel like it kind of slipped through my fingers,” Huddle told Universal Sports’ Lewis Johnson afterwards.

9. Emergence of Dafne Schippers

A lot has changed for Schippers of the Netherlands in the last two years.

At the 2013 Worlds, she was the bronze medalist in the heptathlon. This year, she established herself as a sprinting sensation. She won the 200m in 21.63 seconds, becoming the third fastest woman ever in the event (video here). She also claimed the silver medal in the 100m.

When asked about her future, Schippers told BBC Radio, “Now I’m a sprinter. I’m sure.”

8. Allyson Felix makes it look easy

Felix, the Olympic 200m champion, decided to focus on the 400m in Beijing. She easily won the one-lap race, clocking a personal best 49.26 seconds (video here). She has now won more Worlds gold medals than any other American.

Felix also claimed silver medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m, giving her 13 career Worlds medals.

7. Britain’s “Super Saturday” stars overcome adversity

August 4, 2012 is known as “Super Saturday” in Great Britain, as the nation won six Olympic gold medals in a single day, including three in track and field. All three of those track and field athletes overcame adversity to win gold medals at the 2015 Worlds.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, competing in her first global championship since 2012 after giving birth to her baby son, won the heptathlon title.

Mo Farah swept the 5000m and 10,000m, despite dealing with a sore hamstring and the distraction of having his coach, Alberto Salazar, accused of violating medical and anti-doping rules with his athletes.

Greg Rutherford leaped 8.41m to claim his first World Championship. Critics had dismissed his 2012 Olympic title as a fluke, citing that his victory jump of 8.31m was the shortest since 1972.

6. Sprinting’s future superstars

The 100m final featured the much-anticipated showdown between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, but it also provided a glimpse of the next generation of sprinters.

American Trayvon Bromell and Canadian Andre De Grasse tied for bronze at 9.92 seconds. Both are only 20 years old. Bromell won the 2014 NCAA 100m title for Baylor, while De Grasse won the 2015 NCAA 100m title for USC.

World Championships: Top 10 performances | Ten memorable quotes

5. Well-rounded success for Kenya

Kenya is known for middle-distance running, but the nation triumphed in other events in Beijing.

Nicholas Bett won the 400m hurdles title to become the first Kenyan athlete to win a Worlds race shorter than 800m.

Julius Yego, who learned to throw the javelin by watching YouTube videos, became the first Kenyan to win a Worlds medal in a field event.

4. Ashton Eaton is back

Eaton did not show any rust in his first decathlon since 2013, easily winning the gold medal.

He needed to run 4:18.25 or better in the final event, the 1500m, to break his own world record. He did just that, clocking 4:17.52 (video here).

3. Aries Merritt’s inspirational performance

Despite racing with kidney function at less than 20 percent, Merritt claimed the 110m hurdles bronze medal (video here). The 2012 Olympic champion is scheduled to have a kidney transplant on Tuesday.

“This bronze medal is going to shine brighter than my gold,” Merritt told media in Beijing.

2. Mixed results for Team USA

Track and Field News predicted that the U.S. would finish with 31 medals. The U.S. topped the medal table with 18 total medals, its smallest medal haul at a World Championships since 2003.

The U.S. claimed six gold medals. Only Jamaica and Kenya went home with more.

1. Usain Bolt dominates

Bolt proved that he is still the world’s fastest man, conquering Gatlin in the 100m and 200m. He also helped Jamaica claim gold in the 4x100m.

The only thing that could take Bolt down? A Segway.

Usain Bolt anchors Jamaica to 4x100m relay gold after U.S. mishap

Ten best performances from World Track and Field Championships

Wayde van Niekerk
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Here are the 10 best performances from the World Track and Field Championships, not counting Usain Bolt‘s triple gold effort in Beijing:

10. Julius Yego becomes third farthest javelin thrower ever

Yego, who honed his throwing by watching YouTube javelin videos, became the first Kenyan to win an Olympic or Worlds medal in a field event. His golden throw, 92.72 meters, was the farthest in the world since 2001, eighth farthest all time and made him the No. 3 javelin thrower ever.

9. Anita Wlodarczyk’s second farthest hammer throw ever

The women’s hammer throw does not get much visibility in the U.S., but Wlodarczyk is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in the sport. The Pole broke the world record each of the last two years and came within 10 inches of her best in winning her second World title with an 80.85-meter heave.

8. Jamaica runs second fastest women’s 4x100m relay ever

The 100m gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored the Jamaicans to a comfortable win in 41.07 and by .61 over the Americans, but at least the U.S. still owns the world record (40.82) from the London Olympics.

7. Allyson Felix runs third fastest 4x400m relay leg ever

Felix, now with 13 Worlds medals (most by an American), won the 400m in a personal-best 49.26 seconds. Three nights later, Felix’s split on the 4x400m relay was 47.72, the third fastest split all time. She made up a 1.99-second deficit to start her leg and handed the baton off with a .48 advantage.

6. Wayde van Niekerk runs sixth fastest 400m ever

The South African ran 43.48, a time so exhausting that he had to be stretchered off the track. Van Niekerk would have beaten Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympics. Only Johnson (43.18 world record, 43.39, 43.44), Harry Reynolds (43.29) and Jeremy Wariner (43.45) have covered one lap quicker.

5. Dafne Schippers runs fourth fastest 200m ever

Schippers, the 2013 World bronze medalist in the heptathlon, is now a full-time sprinter. She chose wisely. The flying Dutchwoman earned 100m silver and, four days later, gold in the 200m. Schippers’ 200m time, 21.63 seconds, knocked four tenths off her personal best. She is now the third fastest woman ever in the distance, behind world-record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34, 21.56) and Marion Jones, who ran 21.62 at altitude in 1998, before the stretch when her times were wiped out for doping.

4. Genzebe Dibaba’s final 800 meters of the 1500m

The Ethiopian, who broke the 1500m world record July 17 with a 3:50.07, won the World Championship in a much more tactical race — in 4:08.09, the slowest to take gold in Worlds history. But her final two laps were absolutely stifling. Dibaba covered the final 800 meters in 1:57.2, which would have won the 800m at Worlds by eight tenths of a second.

3. Aries Merritt wins bronze medal with kidney function less than 20 percent

Merritt won the Olympic 110m hurdles title and broke the world record in 2012, but his performance in Beijing was even more incredible. Merritt finished third, four days before he was set to receive a kidney from his sister. He announced he had kidney failure just before Worlds and noted how taxing it was to have to race in three rounds with that condition.

2. Christian Taylor’s second farthest triple jump ever

Jonathan Edwards‘ world record of 18.29 meters from 1995 is under serious threat after the Olympic champion Taylor leaped 18.21 in Beijing. Taylor’s jump left Edwards in astonishment, as the British commentator smiled with his jaw agape and shook his head from the media tribune inside the Bird’s Nest.

1. Ashton Eaton breaks decathlon world record

Which was more impressive, Eaton breaking his world record by six points, or Eaton breaking the decathlon 400m world record by six tenths of a second? The world’s greatest athlete was so exhausted after his two-day, 10-event journey that he had to kneel and rest his head against the video board as he posed for photos next to his 9,045-point score.