Sorry we neglected you, CS Namwamba tells sportsmen
Athletics fraternity, government officers, retired army officers and people from all walks of life on Saturday converged at Kipsigis Girls’ High in Kericho County to bid farewell to athletics legend Wilson Kiprugut.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwaba led the mourners during the funeral ceremony for the late athletics hero where he said the Kenya sportsmen women have not been treated well, recognised or given proper care in their retirement.
The CS said the country has failed to cater for its athletics heroes and heroines properly adding that most of them were wallowing in poverty despite flying Kenya’s flag high during international competitions.
Namwaba said it was unfortunate that successive governments have not neglected sports legends noting that the country owed an apology to great people like the late Kiprugut.
“We have failed as a country to cater for our heroes well. So we owe an apology to them. The great heroes deserve better recognition and treatment plus better care. We must appreciate them for putting Kenya on the World map time and again,” the CS stated.
The Sports CS said that nothing brands Kenya globally better than sportsmen and women thus the need for being treated honourably even after their days of glory on the field are gone.
The CS while conveying a message of condolence from President William Ruto disclosed that he will be requesting him to honour the fallen athletics legend Chumo posthumously for making history after being the first Kenyan athlete to bag a medal in an international competition.
Conquering world of athletics
He revealed that President Ruto’s government has put in place plans to honour sportsmen and women in retirement going forward, arguing that they were the ones who have made the country famous around the globe for conquering the world of athletics.
“We have hit the ground running planning to honour sportsmen and women in retirement. We are planning to treat them well besides offering them the recognition that they deserve. We want them to lead better lives in their retirement”, the CS added.
Namwaba revealed that a state-of-the-art stadium will be built in Kericho County in remembrance of the fallen athletics legend. He asked the county governor Erick Mutai who attended the occasion to identify and set aside a piece of land for the proposed stadium as soon as possible.
The CS described the late Chumo as a hero who opened the gates for Kenya’s athletes for being the first Kenyan to ever bag a medal in an international competition.
He said the athletics legend set the standards and motivated other athletes to emulate him saying the athletes indeed have kept the fire burning by not only conquering the world of athletics but also bagging medals.
“We are laying to rest a hero who opened the way for past and present athletes to excel in athletics and other Sports disciplines. In fact he (Chumo) is the Kenyan John the Baptist,” he said.
The late Chumo, 84, won a bronze medal in 880 Yards (800m) during the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 to become the first Kenyan to ever bag a medal in an international competition.
The late athletics legend also stole the headlines with two gold medals in 400 and 800m at the first All Africa Games held in Brazzaville, Congo in 1965.
The legend also clinched a bronze medal in 880 Yards at the Commonwealth Games staged in Kingston, Jamaica in 1966 plus bagging the silver medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics Games in Mexico among other achievements in athletics.
He also served in the Kenya Army and retired in 1974.
Athletics Kenya (AK) officials led by the senior vice president Paul Mutwii described the late Chumo as the greatest athlete of his time saying they were proud of him for opening doors for others.
Legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino also attended the burial ceremony of the late Chumo.
Members of the National Assembly Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi) and Beatrice Kemei (County MP) attended the occasion plus past and current athletes.
Chumo breathed his last two ago weeks ago after suffering from cardiac arrest.
In total contrast none of the athletics legend - Chumo’s children had passion in active sports or athletics.