LORNAH KIPLAGAT BECOMES A NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST!
I like writing about anything that happens in the sport of running here in Kenya. I like it even more when the news I am writing about is not merely news, but good news! And good news happened last week on Thursday. The Nation Media Group decided to start printing out a newspaper dedicated to covering sports only. The paper is called Sporton, and is to be issued two times every week; on Fridays and Mondays. The inclusion of the world renowned, Lornah Kiplagat, as one of its columnists, makes me feel that the paper will definitely be in a position to bring a change in the perspective of sports in the country. She will be writing an article on it every Monday.
During the launch of the newspaper, where Kenya's sports minister, Ababu Namwamba; world and Olympic Champion, Ezekiel Kemboi; Rally Driver, Azar Anwar; Rugby international player, Dennis Mwanja; Volleyball player, Jane Wacu, and Harambee Stars goal keeper, Duncan Ochieng, were among the sports personalities present, Lornah said that the newspaper had come at the right time and that it will shape sports in the country. She also added that the Nation Media Group had finally identified what Kenyans had been missing.
Lornah Kiplagat, 2008 Beijing Olympics,
The launch of Sporton came a few days after I had written my last article in which I had expressed my displeasure at the way the Kenyan media was giving little coverage to athletics. It is as though someone else at the Nation Media Group had been making the same observations too. For now, I'll be sure to read something concerning running, most probably long distance, from one accomplished runner at least once every week. Finally, a great step for the running industry in the country has been made.
Kiplagat has been a professional athlete for over 20 years, having represented Kenya in major world competitions earlier in her career before gaining Dutch citizenship in 2003 and running for the Netherlands up to now. Her experience is more than enough and Sporton will be a perfect platform for her to share that with the upcoming champions and sports fans.
Although she has been representing a foreign country, she has all along been contributing greatly to the development of running and the success of many runners in Kenya. I think I will be safe to say that she is the athlete that has contributed the most towards the facilitation of runners in Kenya, her most notable contribution being the establishment of the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten that has over the years assisted in offering important equipment to athletes for their therapies and exercises. Recently, she also opened an Academy for girls from poor family backgrounds with passion for running, in order to develop their talents. She is also in the process of setting up a tartan track in Iten to be completed by April this year - in time to assist Kenyan athletes to train on it ahead of the World Championships to be held in Moscow. So far, the other two tartan tracks are situated far away in Nairobi and do not help the athletes much who mostly hail and train here in the Rift Valley. In fact, the stadiums there were important only for conducting the national trials, but, given the fact that the long distance trials are now not even being conducted there anymore, but abroad, the tartan tracks in Nairobi are not of that much help to the long distance athletes. Lornah's track will definitely be much more useful than the combination of the two tartan tracks in Nairobi!
Zhou, Kiplagat, 2007 London,
On her first column this Monday, she wrote on why we should all embrace sports, which to her is a perfect way to gain fitness and inner peace. She wrote on how the sport has assisted her in making friends with people from many parts of the world, even interestingly, with some who could not communicate verbally with her because of language barriers, but with whom she would share wonderful moments together. She promises to share in her next articles, topics on stories of her travels across the world for her competitions, getting fit after a break from training, staying fit, training for some specific events and distances, infrastructure in sports and sports management and administration. All these, she claims, will be in her quest to ensure the physical fitness and health of Kenyans.
I hope that through her column, many more Kenyans will come to embrace running, and to better appreciate and become more proud of their runners.