The final list of Kenya’s Beijing Olympic squad was finally presented to IAAF on monday and two names on the list were unexpected. 400m Sprinters, Elizabeth Muthuka and Vincent Mumo surprised me when they were able to achieve the Olympic qualifying mark.
Their success reminded me that there was a time when Kenya athletes were a force in short distances. I checked results of past Olympic games and discovered that in the past, Kenya ranked very well in the 4×400m relay. We won a silver at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, and then a Gold in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Julius Sang also won a bronze in open 400m in the same Munich games.
Elizabeth Muthuka has a Maria Mutola look, She has a muscular build; chiseled shoulders and biceps that would make men her age envious. Until last month, Elizabeth Muthuka was just another struggling athlete but in the last one week, she has broken the Kenyan 400m record which stood for 24 year twice. She is now set for Beijing.
Athletics Kenya has talked about promoting participation in short distance but it has all been talk, the federation has never put money in promoting the sport. Aspiring sprinters like Elizabeth have to struggle by themselves.
Struggling on your own teaches you determination. I hope the determination propels Elizabeth and Vincent to victory in Beijing.