The Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Amb. (Dr) Amina Mohamed, on behalf of the Ministry of Sports, all its agencies, staff and stakeholders, congratulates Athletics Kenya on its 70th Anniversary celebrations.
This week, Athletics Kenya celebrates 70 great years since its foundation in 1950 by British volunteer Sir
Archie Evans along with Sir Derek Erskine. Sir Erskine served as the first Chairman of the
Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) from 1950 to 1964, laying the firm foundation that saw Kenya feature at the Olympic Games for the first time in 1956 in Melbourne, and also travel to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 for the first time as an independent nation.
Sir Erksine was succeeded by Musembi Mbathi (1964-68), Bartonjo Rotich (1968-1972), Charles Mukora (1972-74), Sam Ongeri (1974-1984), Paul Boit (1984-1992), Isaiah Kiplagat (1992-2015) and Jackson Tuwei who is the current President of the organization now known as Athletics Kenya.
All these great leaders maintained the strong Kenyan track and field tradition that has contributed immensely to the total 103 medals won by Kenya at the Olympic Games, mainly in track and field. My ministry is in the process of documenting these triumphs and achievements in virtual archives through a partnership that we shall unveil soon.
Athletics Kenya remains the most successful sports federation in Kenya, having produced a galaxy of stars who have followed in the footsteps of pioneers such as Nyandika Maiyoro, Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, Amos Biwott, Kipchoge Keino, Naftali Temu, Naftali Bon, Ben Jipcho, Tecla Chemabwai Sang, Tegla Loroupe, Lydia Stephens, Elizabeth Jemeli Chesire, Hezekiah Nyamau, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang and Charles Asati, among others. Their achievements stand out, with Kiprugut the first Kenyan to win an Olympic medal – a bronze in the 880 yards (now 800m) – at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. This was after Maiyoro was among the first Kenyan athletes to compete in a global contest at 1954
Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, leading the national team that had 4×440 yards relay greats Bartojo Rotich, Wanyoike Kamau, Musembi Mbathi alongside 880 yards stars Silas Kibet Boit and Kiptalam Keter. Indeed, that World Athletics recently nominated Athletics Kenya for the “World Federation of the Year” award attests to the great work the association has put in.
Also recently, Iten was awarded the World Athletics Heritage Plaque for its outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of athletics. This is an indication of the global confidence in our management of the sport over the years. As a Ministry, we shall continue to jealously guard this heritage and support our athletes to ensure Kenya’s flag keeps flying and our national anthem remains a consistent feature on global podiums.
This year, the global sport took a major beating from the coronavirus pandemic. As a Ministry, we ensured athletes who missed out on revenue-generating competition were cushioned through the financial and food relief support that we provided in partnership with our supporters. The government will continue to offer support to our athletes to ensure they maintain their first-class performances.
It is for this reason that the government committed to financing the hosting of both the Kip Keino Classic and the 2021 World Athletics Continental Tour meeting in Nairobi. The success of the inaugural Kip Keino Classic on October 3, where 30 nations were in attendance, the highest on this new circuit, demonstrates the government’s focus on sports development.
Next year, we shall continue offering support to the athletes that will compete at various championships, including the World Under-20 Championships here at home, the African Games in Algiers, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Finally, I wish to implore our athletes – both the young and experienced – to run clean and win clean.
The government shall not tolerate drug cheats in sport and we are working closely with our agency, the Anti-doping Agency of Kenya, to ensure all who use or abet the use of banned performance-enhancing substances meet with the full force of the law.
As you celebrate these 70 brilliant years at Athletics Kenya, I would like to offer my, and the government’s sincere appreciation and congratulations to you for a job well done. May you leave a strong legacy to last another 70 years and more!