Q&A With Athletics Kenya Boss Jackson Tuwei

October 25, 2021

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jackson Tuwei faces questions from the public.

What is AK doing to attract new blood in sports management? Bodies like Sports Kenya and Kenya Academy of Sports seem to be doing very little. There are many out here who are willing to help more Kenyans live off their sporting talent. How can we contribute? Lucas Marang’a, Nairobi

Athletics, like all other sports in the country, are devolved as per the Sports Act. We therefore partner with schools and counties in identifying new talents. You can therefore contribute through these avenues and have the new talents given an opportunity to get exposed. We also organise weekend meetings within the season to offer more choices and chances.

AK officials and trained coaches are available everywhere within the country and willing to assist. Let us work together.

The tragic death of Agnes Tirop, a promising athlete, is a sad turn of events that brings to the limelight the troubles and challenges bedevilling sports people in the country. What is Athletics Kenya doing to encourage the athletes to come out and share their challenges and avert such incidents? Bonny Mutai, Bomet

It is indeed sad and painful to lose Agnes Tirop. We hope that such a tragic incident is never experienced again.

AK has been organising seminars to educate our athletes on several topics. These seminars have helped to deal with several challenges faced by our athletes. They include doping, banking, property management, investment, insurance, contract signing, values and retirement. We shall now include other topics such as mentorship, psychology and mental issues to address new challenges.

Although the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) has been spearheading the anti-doping campaign among our athletes, AK has also shown presence in the same. Sir, what has been the success rate of these campaigns? What will it take to sustain these achievements? What has been the weakest link in dealing with the menace? Komen Moris, Eldoret

The weakest link to doping matters has been education and information, which has not been properly integrated. This was the main reason why we started holding educational seminars for our athletes. The education programmes carried out by AK, ADAK and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) have helped a lot to close the gap. We also contributed in the development of the Anti-doping Act, which was passed into law last year. This has helped a lot in the reduction of doping cases. We shall continue with the fight and hope that you support the efforts.

As a long-time resident of Eldoret, which is the undisputed City of Champions, I have witnessed the challenges our world-beating athletes go through, especially during their morning training sessions, with some of them getting serious injuries due to accidents. The Kipchoge Keino Stadium has taken forever to be completed. What plans do you have to change this sad narrative? When will the stadium be ready for use? Komen Moris, Eldoret

That athletes have suffered injuries due to accidents in Eldoret is a sad state of affairs. It is also our concern that Kipchoge Keino Stadium has taken rather too long to be completed. We are closely following up with the relevant authorities and believe that the completion date will be in the very near future. Already there are good indications towards this and we remain hopeful.

There was once an ambitious programme for children’s athletics, then all went quiet. What is being done to encourage this group that represents the future to take up athletics? Moses Mwamba, Kilifi

We started Kids Athletics in partnership with the Ministry of Education successfully and with a lot of energy. It is a wonderful programme to introduce children to athletics. We have already trained 48 school teachers to coach and guide the learners.

It was unfortunate that with the onset of Covid-19, the programme was temporarily suspended in line with the containment measures the government had instituted. It should however be back in the new season.

What happened to David Rudisha? Does AK have any plans to keep retired athletes active in the sport? Mary Nkirote, Nkubu

David Rudisha is well and active. He just attended the funeral of Agnes Tirop in Nandi County yesterday. Apart from that, he is an executive committee member of AK and an athletes’ representative where his services and skills are highly needed.

Remember he still holds the 800m world record since 2012. With this recognition, he contributes quite a lot in motivating the young generation to become more active and successful in the same event. I am sure you remember our athletes took positions one and two in the Tokyo Olympics in this event. We, therefore, look upon him to guide the athletes to maintain the same spirit.

Sir, how is AK working to ensure the legacy of the World Under-18 and World Under-20 Championships held in Nairobi is felt for many years to come? Are we really ready to host the World Athletics Championships in 2025? Hussein Rashid, Nairobi

The World Under-18 Championships were successfully held in Nairobi in July 2017. The World Under-20 followed in 2021 and were successfully hosted for the first time in Africa, having been postponed from 2020 due to Covid-19.

The first legacy of these two events is the history our country made by hosting them, and the athletes who competed will never forget them. The second legacy is that of upgrading our sports facilities and all the competition equipment, which remain available for our athletes to use. The third is that of building capacity in all areas, including technical officials, protocols required in hosting such events, security services, media services, upgrading of accommodation facilities, transportation, opening up our country to more tourists, managing all the conditions required by such a world class event, and the focus on our country by the rest of the world during that period.

It is also good to note that there were many more benefits to our country. I have no doubt in my mind that, with these experiences, we can host the World Championships in 2025. We have already forwarded a strong bid for the same and are confident that this is our time.

We have seen many athletics camps mushrooming all over the country, some with athletes living in terrible conditions. What is AK doing to streamline such camps? Peter Kiprono, Bomet

Training camps for athletes are strictly controlled through the rules and regulations we have established. If anyone has started one without our knowledge, that is definitely illegal and cannot be allowed. Our officials in the counties are very active in checking on such challenges. If you are aware of any that do not meet the conditions required, please report to Riadha House without delay.

Athletics Kenya has not had its elections for many years. Don’t you think it is time to make some changes in management and bring in fresh blood, especially elite athletes who have just retired? Elvis Chebet, Mosoriot

We prepared to hold our elections in 2017 and put up a programme for the same. No sooner had we begun the process than someone went to court and stopped the elections. We have been ready since then. As soon as the case is determined, we shall proceed without delay.

Many years ago, we used to have the very popular triangular athletics series involving schools and other institutions. What happened to these competitions? What is AK doing to popularise the weekend track and field meetings? Don’t you think you need to innovate? Mary Onyancha, Kisii

Triangular events used to be held during the seasons between primary schools, secondary schools and colleges and thereafter, between the selected schools team and other institutions. I am sure you are aware that the schools’ curriculum has been undergoing some changes. Covid-19 also affected some of these programmes. As the situation settles down, we shall hold tripartite coordination and discussions with a view to reintroduce the same with new plans and agreements.

We have just started the weekend cross-country meetings to be followed closely with the track and field meetings. We are also coming out of the challenges that necessitated our events to be either postponed or cancelled. With the new impetus, we shall come up with new plans.

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