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by Ignatius Chukwu
last updated Wed, Jul 14, 2021 6:19 PM

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Kenya's Kiyeng Races To First Place, Reminding Us Nigeria's Lost Glories

By Ignatius Chukwu |
last updated 18:19 14/07/2021
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Kiyeng (credit: Getty Images

Most viewers across the globe searched the tallies for what to keep busy with while waiting for the epic football encounter between England and Italy on Sunday, July 11, 2021. This was to conclude Euro-2020, the only tournament with a false name (it was happening in 2021 with 2020 as the name).

Before then, there was the Diamond League, an international athletics competition on Saturday, July 10, 2021, where Faith Kipyegon stood out. The flag was Kenya, perhaps the most consistent country in Africa, especially in the races. They must have a tested and steady method of raising their athletes young and nursing or grooming them from wherever to international supremacy. 

Kipyegon did the 1500m with grace. She went well, negotiated the bends, and maintained the speed to the brace of the tape. She won without breathing very hard. Kenyans dominate that bracket in the world, both in the Olympics and in the International Athletics Association Federation (IAAF) annual races that see the best in the world. 

Another 3000m women's race came, and Hyvin Kiyeng emerged to lead three Kenyan ladies in the decathlon. The moment the blast sounded, she shot off like a bullet - the way Kenyans do it - and took the lead position. She never allowed anybody to take that place. Whatever speed you produced, she would add on it and kept going. Two of her nationals backed her up.

 At a point, A French athlete (named Emma Coburn) charged at the Kenyans. She would have none of that formation for dominance. She pushed to the second position and insisted on dusting Kiyeng, who reached into her innermost strength chambers to keep going. They got to the last obstacle that they must overcome; to jump the crosswood, sprint into the pool of water in front of it, and race clear to the tapes.

Kiyeng did it seamlessly, but Coburn used surge, stepped on the wood top, jumped into the water, and slipped and fell. Wao! Kiyeng had her respite. The other two Kenyan ladies surged ahead of the French lady who just scrambled up and was sapped.

Final result: the three Kenyans made it. Many cannot tell what would have happened had Coburn made it. She looked liked she would have pushed Kiyeng off at the final tape. It was going to be an epic ending. Only God knows who would have won.

The issue here is that when the best of the world were pushing hard to win things at Monaco 2021 (Diamond League), Nigeria was nowhere to be found. Countries that have plans and programmes showed them.

The youths of the world with proper governance structures and youth schemes came out to show it. It takes planning programmes that start from kindergarten to top age brackets. It captures all manner of talents.

Who would have known that Nigeria would be world beaters in comedy if it had to be managed by the government? It's because it's all in the hands of an individual; that is why Nigerians excel there and hit the highest levels. Ask the government to regulate it, moderate it and grade them; you would find that Nigerian comedians would be the weakest in the world. That's how toxic our system is.

Sport is a sector waiting to explode. It's capable of employing more than 50 percent of the youths, galvanize the people, export talents, and make Nigeria a proud country, but the government knows nothing about this. So, talents hide or die until some escape abroad. An Ideation Centre can solve this. Ideas will flow into the center, and sports can explode if a government sees the idea. 

Hyvin Kiyeng Faith Kipyegon Emma Coburn Kenya Nigeria IAAF Diamond League Monaco Euro2020 Euro-2020 International Athletics Association Federation

About the author

Ignatius Chukwu

Mr Chukwu is a versatile writer and journalist of many decades starting from the Daily Times of old to BusinessDay.


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