Team Kenya athletes have taken issue with allowances paid to them while representing the country overseas terming it meagre and not worthy of runners flying the country’s flag. Africa javelin record holder Julius Yego stunned Athletics Kenya and government officials who visited the team at their hotel in Nairobi ahead of their departure to Asaba, Nigeria for the CAA Africa Athletics Championships on Monday when he raised the allowance issue.
“We once sat in a meeting together with the President and this issue of allowances to athletes was raised. The President was shocked at what is paid to athletes and I don’t understand why you pay us such money and call it motivation. We would rather just represent the country for free than get such amounts,” Yego said to a thunderous round of applause from the athletes.
The celebrated athletes earn a paltry Sh5,000 a day as overseas allowances while on duty for Kenya and Sh1,500 when camping within the borders. For the eight days they will be in Asaba, the athletes will earn Sh40,000 with podium finishers lined up for further appreciation by the state.
Commissioner for Sports Japson Gitonga revealed that a review of the rates is underway and will be forwarded to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission for ratification. Sixty-four athletes will represent Kenya in Asaba next week and Gitonga promised to have their allowances sorted by Wednesday.
At the same time, several athletes lost money and other valuables when their rooms were broken into at the team hotel along Thika Super Highway. The athletes, among them Amos Kirui and two female runners who requested anonymity, complained to the hotel management who were at pains to explain the occurrence. Race walker Grace Wanjiru and 400m huddler Aaron Koech have been appointed captains while veteran Kenya Prisons Service coach Stephen Mwaniki is the head coach.
“We are ready for the championships and are going to do our best to win medals. Other than small issues here and there, we are happy. Most of our needs have been taken care of and we received full kits this time. Everyone here knows what is required of them and have the drive to perform when time comes,” Koech said.
Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei cautioned the athletes from performance-enhancing drugs and urged clean runners to report their friends and training partners who are engaged in the vice.
“The consequences of doping will affect everyone including clean runners so you better report your friends who take part in doping. It is surprising that for the past three years that this doping has really affected us, we have not seen any athlete come forward to report,” said Tuwei.