Yesterday Nandi County born Ruth Jebet set a new world record in 3000m women’s steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League in Paris but a different national anthem was played as she was crowned with the gold medal. The world was watching the second time in a couple of weeks as Kenyan born athletes won medals for their adopted countries.
Jebet joins a long lists of athletes who come to be called Made in Kenya gold grabbers. Many national teams ranging from our neighboring Uganda, Qatar, Denmark, Netherlands to Bahrain and even world superpower US are importing elite Kenyan born athletes to boost their international image in the athletics world.
Over the years the list has been growing and making impact in the various adopted countries. Many reasons have been put forward as to why our talented men and women are changing their citizenship to foreign countries. One of the major cited reason is the neglect by government and especially the sports management department.
The ongoing fiasco following the Rio Olympics will make it even more nor for athletes to leave for other countries and make a living earning them medals. Export of athletes began in the 1990’s when the likes of Wilson Kipketer went to run for Denmark. Now it is a fashion kind of show for Kenyans to compete in international races alongside fellow Kenyans who are flying a foreign flag.
Ironically, most of these export athletes are not residents of the adopted countries. They continue living, training and investing in their home backyards of Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.