MOKAMBA SOLDIERS ON

Mokamba out to prove Kenya can produce top notch sprinters

Not much can be said about the country’s achievements in the sprints and hurdles.

In Summary

•There has been a few pockets of remarkable achievements here and there including former world 400 hurdles champion, the late Nicholas Bett and Olympic silver medallist Boniface Mucheru just to mention but a few.

•Mokamba’s moment of glory came exactly three years after he had completed high school when he set a national record in 100 meters during the 2015 Kenya championships.

Mike Mokamba going through the drills during a training session at Nyayo Stadium last week .
Mike Mokamba going through the drills during a training session at Nyayo Stadium last week .
Image: ERICK BARASA.JPG

Anytime Kenya is mentioned in the world of athletics, what always comes to mind are the middle and long distance races.

It’s not surprising though that this is the norm. With a staggering population of 49 million people, the largest East African economy has always claimed bragging rights in the middle and long distance races, producing a steady line of world-beaters with unmatched and enviable consistency.

The latest Kenyan sensation in athletics has been Eliud Kipchoge, who won the World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year for the 2nd time in a row and is currently world marathon record holder and Olympic champion.

And who would ever forget the all-time world great Catherine Ndereba, who earned herself the nickname “Catherine the Great” following her exploits on road.

Ndereba, twice won marathon at the World athletics Championships and silver medals at the Olympic Games in 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing. She is remembered for breaking the women’s marathon world record in 2001 after running 2:18:47 in Chicago Marathon.

Other Kenyan athletes, who left a huge mark on the track include world 800m record holder, David Rudisha, 2008 Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo, multi world and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi and former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat, who is the current National Olympic committee of Kenya (NOCK) chairman among others.

That notwithstanding, not much can be said about the country’s achievements in the sprints and hurdles. There has been a few pockets of remarkable achievements here and there including former world 400 hurdles champion, the late Nicholas Bett and Olympic silver medallist Boniface Mucheru just to mention but a few.

And yes, there still exist a number of athletes who believe Kenya’s has the potential to produce more superstars in the field of sprints and hurdles.

Among them is Mike Mokamba Nyang’au who has his eyes firmly set on proving that Kenyans too can excel in short races. His is an inspiring narrative of a runner, who despite years of struggling to achieve a respectable position on the track, has refused to give up completely.

We caught up with Mokamba at the newly renovated Nyayo National Stadium, where the national sprints and hurdles team has been training in small groups since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

Born on August 28, 1994, Mokamba attended Kangundo Junior Academy before proceeding to Terige High School in Nandi after sitting for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in 2008.

It was during his high school years that his claws in athletics jutted out. He easily cruised past the zonal and provincial competitions to represent his school on the national stage.

It is at this level that he caught the eyes of national team tacticians who drafted him to the national squad. He dominated high school games, calling shots and walloping his opponents at will until he finally left the scene in 2012.

Mokamba’s moment of glory came exactly three years after he had completed high school when he set a national record in 100 metres during the 2015 Kenyan championships.

Indeed, he was cut out for greatness in the world of athletics. In the 200 metres, Mokamba attained the threshold for competing on the international stage after obtaining a qualifying time for the 2015 World Championships, a performance that secured him an automatic slot in the Kenyan team for that event.

In 2011, Mokamba came a distant 7th in the 100m, clocking 11.03 during the African Junior Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. He was 10th in the 200m with a time of 21.95 and went on to place 5th in the 4×100 metres relay, clocking a time of 43.03.

In the same year, his struggles got real during the World Youth Championships in Lille, France where he fizzled out to finish17th in the 200m with an average time of 21.62.

He was ranked 28th overall in the 100m with a time of 10.70 during the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain and was 23rd in the 4×400m relay with a time of 3:06.29 at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

Despite the unimpressive outings, Mokamba was resilient in his resolve, never giving up. In 2015, he was part of the Kenyan sprints and hurdles team that was disqualified during the World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas in the 4 × 200m relay.

He proceeded to the World Championships in Beijing, China where he finished 31st in the 200m, clocking 20.51.

During the World  Military Games in Mungyeong, South Korea, he finished 12th in the 100m in 10.76 secs and 8th in the 200m with a time of 21.16 secs. He was part of the Kenyan team that secured 8th spot in the 4×100m relay with a time of 40.58.

His spirit was amazing and his enthusiasm unbeatable. In 2016, he jetted out of the country to participate in the African Championships in Durban, South Africa where he emerged 27th overall in the 200m in a time of 21.83. Then in 2017, he was in Nassau Bahamas for the World Relays, where the Kenyan team ended up 7th position in the 4 × 200m relay with a time of 1:23.72.

Had Mokamba been a faint-hearted athlete, he could have long quit but that has not been the case. In 2018, still ambitious and eager to leave a mark in the world stage, Mokamba plunged himself into the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in  Australia, where he emerged 26th in the 200m in 21.14.

After several years of posting average results, things started looking up for the sprinter. He posted an improved performance, coming sixth in the 4×400m relay on 3:13.52 during the African Championships in Addis Ababa and went a notch higher, finishing fifth with the Kenyan team in the 4×100 m relay with an improved time of 39.77 in Asaba, Nigeria.

He fought tooth and nail at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan to secure a 4th-place finish in the 4×200m relay in 1:22.55 and made a further impression during the African Games in Rabat, Morocco, where he finished 8th in the 200m in 21.05 and 4th in the 4×100m relay in a time of 41.28.

Mokamba urges upcoming athletes to stick to a strict regimen of discipline and work hard if they intend to scale the heights of international standards.

Married with one child Tabby, Mokamba says he owes his wife Karina loads of gratitude given that she has always stood by him through thick and thin.

“She’s so supportive. Her positive attitude has enabled me to achieve quite a lot. She understands when duty calls and has no qualms whatsoever when I spend several days away from home,” says Mokamba.

He says he spends his free time watching movies and swimming. His battles on the track have, however, never been easy. He has struggled through his journey that is a combination of failure and success.

 

 

 

Mike Mokamba charges past Jared Momanyi and Elijah Matayo during a training session at Nyayo stadium.
Mike Mokamba charges past Jared Momanyi and Elijah Matayo during a training session at Nyayo stadium.
Image: ERICK BARASA.

We caught up with Mokamba at the newly renovated Nyayo National Stadium, where the national sprints and hurdles team has been training in small groups since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

Born on August 28, 1994, Mokamba attended Kangundo Junior Academy before proceeding to Terige High School in Nandi after sitting for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in 2008.

It was during his high school years that his claws in athletics jutted out. He easily cruised past the zonal and provincial competitions to represent his school on the national stage.

It is at this level that he caught the eyes of national team tacticians who drafted him to the national squad. He dominated high school games, calling shots and walloping his opponents at will until he finally left the scene in 2012.

Mokamba’s moment of glory came exactly three years after he had completed high school when he set a national record in 100 meters during the 2015 Kenya championships.

Indeed, he was cut out for greatness in the world of athletics. In the 200 metres, Mokamba attained the threshold for competing on the international stage after obtaining a qualifying time for the 2015 World Championships, a performance that secured him an automatic slot in the Kenyan team for that event.

In 2011, Mokamba came a distant 7th in the 100m, clocking 11.03 during the African Junior Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. He was 10th in the 200m with a time of 21.95 and went on to place 5th in the 4×100 metres relay, clocking a time of 43.03.

In the same year, his struggles got real during the World Youth Championships in Lille, France where he fizzled out to finish17th in the 200m with an average time of 21.62.

He was ranked 28th overall in the 100m with a time of 10.70 during the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain and was 23rd in the 4×400m relay with a time of 3:06.29 at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

Mike Mokamba (R) warms up with Alphas Kishoyian during a training session at Nyayo Stadium.
Mike Mokamba (R) warms up with Alphas Kishoyian during a training session at Nyayo Stadium.
Image: ERICK BARASA

Despite the unimpressive outings, Mokama was resilient in his resolve, never giving up. In 2015, he was part of the Kenyan sprints and hurdles team that was disqualified during the World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas in the 4 × 200m relay.

He proceeded to the World Championships in Beijing, China where he finished 31st in the 200m, clocking 20.51.

During the Military World Games in Mungyeong, South Korea, he finished 12th in the 100m in 10.76 secs and 8th in the 200m with a time of 21.16 secs. He was part of the Kenyan team that secured the. 8th slot in the 4×100m relay with a time of 40.58.

His spirit was amazing and his enthusiasm unbeatable. In 2016, he jetted out of the country to participate in the African Championships in Durban, South Africa where he emerged 27th overall in the 200m in a time of 21.83.

Then in 2017, he was in Nassau Bahamas for the World Relays, where the Kenyan team ended up 7th position in the 4 × 200m relay with a time of 1:23.72.

Had Mokama been a faint-hearted athlete, he could have long quit but that has not been the case. In 2018, still ambitious and eager to leave a mark in the world stage, Mokama plunged himself into the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in  Australia, where he emerged 26th in the 200m in 21.14.

After several years of posting average results, things started looking up for the sprinter. He posted an improved performance, coming sixth in the 4×400m relay on 3:13.52 during the African Championships in Addis Ababa and went a notch higher, finishing fifth with the Kenyan team in the 4×100 m relay with an improved time of 39.77 in Asaba, Nigeria.

He fought tooth and nail at the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan to secure a 4th slot in the 4×200m relay on 1:22.55 and made a further impression during the African Games in Rabat, Morocco, where he finished 8th in the 200m in 21.05 and 4th in the 4×100m relay in a time of 41.28.

Mokama urges upcoming athletes to stick to a strict regimen of discipline and work hard if they intend to scale the heights of international standards.

Married with one child Tabby, Mokamba says he owes his wife Karina loads of gratitude given that she has always stood by him through thick and thin.

“She’s so supportive. Her positive attitude has enabled me to achieve quite a lot. She understands when duty calls and has no qualms whatsoever when I spend several days away from home,” says Mokamba.

He says he spends his free time watching movies and swimming. His battles on the track have, however, never been easy. He has struggled through his journey that is a combination of failure and success.

 

Birth Date: 28 Aug 1994

Place of Birth: Nyamira

Country of birth: Kenya

Height (cm): 170

Weight (Kg): 71

Occupation: Officer at Kenya Air Force, Ngong Base

Education2001-2008:Kangundo Junior Academy2009-2012: Terige High School, Nandi

Personal Best: 20.48 seconds (National Athletics Championships at Kasarani)

World RankingsCurrent World Ranking PositionsMen's 200m

Place:117 Score:1123

Men's Overall Ranking

Place:2232 Score:1123

Highest Ever World Ranking PositionsMen's 200m

Place: 111

Men's Overall Ranking Place:2079