With the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast having concluded yesterday, there are few lessons that Team Kenya must take with them back home.
Kenya concluded the event at position 14 with 17 medals thus four gold, seven silver and six bronze.
Kenyan athletes in various events left no doubt that they had the talent but were ill-prepared. Some of them had to deal with their selections in court until the very last minute and it no doubt affected their performance.
Once again athletics took the lead, bringing all medals apart from the bronze won by boxer Christine Ongare, in the light fly division.
Gold medallists included — captain Elijah Manangoi (1,500m), Wycliffee Kimunyal (800m), Conseslus Kipruto (3,000m steeplechase) and Helen Obiri (5,000m).
Silver medallists were Celliphine Chepteek (3,000m SC), Margaret Nyairera (800m), Timothy Cheruiyot (1,500m), Margaret Chelimo (5,000m), Abraham Kibiwott (3,000m SC), Stacy Ndiwa (10,000m) and Beatrice Chepkoech (1,500m).
Bronze medalists were — Rodgers Kwemoi (10,000m), Edward Zakayo (5,000m), Amos Kirui (3,000m SC), Samuel Gathimba (20km walk), Purity Cherotich (3,000m steeplechase) and Christine Ongare (boxing).
Boxers had a very painful experience in the ring with most of them sustaining cuts. Apart from Shaffi Bakari, who proceeded to quarters, the rest were eliminated early. Not even experienced boxers like Elly Ajowi (91kg), Nick Abaka (81kg), Benson Gicharu (56kg) and Nick Okoth (60kg) could survive the blows despite their experience.
“I have leaned some of the rules here and this is a disadvantage,” said Abaka.
Other boxers including women were no match for their opponents hence calls of going back to the drawing board. For the rugby players, the system didn’t just favour them hence forcing them to exit early despite winning two matches and losing one. Only the top team in the four pools proceeded to quarters. The men ended up eighth after playing classification matches while the women placed six and returned home with their heads high after beating heavyweights South Africa and Wales.
Squash players were the biggest culprit with swimmers also complaining of ‘short notice’. Khaaliqa Nimji and Hardeep Reel had selection issues until the last minute and the best they could do was participate.
Badminton also showed flashes of brilliance but one of them sustained an injury. Mercy Joseph and Victor Odera were very promising but the latter sustained an injury before the events.
Swimmers including Brunlehner sisters Sylvia and Maria, Steven Kimani, Issa Abdulla and Emily Muteti complained that they had short notice and this was evident in their training. Lawn bowls duo of Eunice Wambui and Cephas Kimwaki showed that, with a little bit of push, they can easily gate-crash into medal positions and so are table tennis players, Brian Mutua and Sejal Thakkar.
Cycling, wrestling, shooting and para events left no doubt that they have a long way to go to deliver medals. Whether the experience gathered at the Games will be put into use for the sake of the future remains to be seen.
National Olympic Committee of Kenya and local federations must shift their focus to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 22nd Commonwealth Games set for Birmingham, United Kingdom in 2022.