By Kenfrey Kiberenge
I pen this article with a lump on my throat. It is about the misfortunes of our athletes; those who over the years have put Kenya on the world map.
In the run up to the just concluded Olympics, the BBC ran a piece on their website headlined: David Rudisha the ‘best athlete you’ve never heard of’. Below the story, they wrote: “Available to UK users only”, meaning it might not have been seen in Kenya.
Rudisha is the 2010 IAAF male athlete of the year. He is now the Olympic men’s 800m record holder besides the world record title he earned two years ago when he set a new record and broke it in a span of one week and also broke at the Olympics. The headline might appear harsh but it is the bitter truth.
Newspapers although aware of Rudisha’s talent, had to find a British connection in headlining their stories.
The connection came easily in an Irish-born missionary-turned coach Brother Colm O’Connell, who was touted as the man who turned Rudisha’s fortunes. Games organisers and top athletes too knew Rudisha and his electrifying performance.
At one point, as he was being awarded his gold medal after breaking the record at the Olympics, Usain Bolt was being interviewed by the BBC.
But when the Kenyan national anthem started playing Bolt immediately turned his back on the interviewer who unsuccessfully tapped him to continue the interview. The Jamaican sprinter applauded Rudisha at the end and continued with the interview.
He was also among the few lucky non-British medalists to make it into the BBC studios for an interview.
Lord Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 organising committee later described Rudisha’s run as his best moment of the Olympics.
But that is the far as good news goes. Not many people know Rudisha outside Kenya. The higher the number of the people that know you the more attractive you become for lucrative endorsement.
South African double amputee men’s 400m runner Oscar Pistorius’s images are all over the newspaper pages and billboards for the endorsements he got.