Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Salute to my Country Men and Women

One of the best and most memorable experience for any Kenyan living abroad, i imagine, is to hear their national anthem being played (even out of tune) and see their national flag (which all Kenyans think is the best looking in the world) being hoisted on foreign soil.
For years, Kenyan athletes, men and women, kings and queens of the world's track and field have consistently dominated international races-breaking records, setting new ones and breaking them again when no one else could; effectively guaranteeing and providing those special 'Kenyan-anthem-and-flag-moments' abroad.
In fact, Kenyans have been so successful that my favourite columnist, Charles Onyango-Obbo, writing in the East African, once proposed that they should now allow Ugandans to win- 'in the spirit of East African cooperation'.
Meanwhile, Utrecht Marathon organizers were busy plotting how to lock out Kenyans from their event this year. A point-blank ban would be illegal and was not an option. So they decided they would instead 'offer' 100euro prize money to any non-Dutch passport holder (code name for Kenyan) who won the race, and 10000euros for a Dutch citizen achieving the same feat. Being the clever fellows they think they are, they explained away the whole scenario as a way of 'encouraging' Dutch citizens to 'do well'. What a lame, short-sighted strategy. And an even lamer and blind excuse.
As if to prove just how banal the Utrecht strategy is, Geoffrey Mutai went on to not only win the 115th edition of the Boston marathon, but set a new record, running the fastest marathon ever!
Geoffrey Mutai, world's fastest marathon runner
Caroline Kilel did the honours in the women's race. A week earlier, Kenya had swept the podium at the London marathon.The Paris marathon before that.The World Cross Country Championships in Palmeria, get the drift by now.
Another Kenyan, Caroline Kilel, won the women's race
So the IAAF built a high altitude international training camp in Kenya.Foreign athletes flocked to 'acclimatize' and learn the 'Kenyan secret to success'. Years later, they are still learning.Going by recent and not too recent results, it seems to me that they are either learning the wrong stuff....or...Kenyans were 'built' for this business and are in a class of their won. I am more inclined to the latter possibility.

Rudisha: Its a world record!
Last year, a 21 year-old by the name David Rudisha, showed up on the world stage to set a new 800-meter world record...and proceeded to break it after one week. IAAF had no option other than to name him the male athlete of the year 2010. In Nairobi, we joked how Rudisha was 'rudisha-ing' medals back home.Rudisha is also a Kiswahili word that means 'return'.

I can only salute these outstanding men and women, who never disappoint and forever make me proud to be Kenyan!!

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