Kenya’s Citizen TV: Medals for Passports: How Bahrain is striking gold in Kenya
2017-02-08 - 6:59 am
Bahrain Mirror: Kenya Citizen TV website issued a report in which is indicated how Bahrain is employing Kenyan athletes to win medals in Olympic Games.
"Here was part of the future of Kenyan athletics, a country famed worldwide for its distance running excellence bursting their lungs to train in pursuit of medals for Bahrain and riches for themselves and family", the website reported.
On the ground, Nandi-based correspondent Daniel Korir and cameraman Mohammed Dida from Nairobi went on with their secret filming mission, to film their report, and followed "Bahrainis of Kenyan origins" in their training.
The website noted that the naturalized Kenyan runners did not convert to Islam, adding that Bahrain was able to win two Olympic medals at the hand of the Kenyan-born athletes in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Athletics Kenya (AK) Nairobi chairman, Barnaba Korir, is the alleged local fixer that facilitated Bahrain to set camp in Kapsabet besides reportedly playing some undefined role in identifying and recruiting runners for the Gulf Nation.
"Barnaba is the team manager for all the athletes, he is like the team leader for Team Bahrain. He is lucky to be with us," Bahraini head coach and Saudi born-Saad Shaddad a retired 3000m steeplechase star told Citizen TV.
Shaddad confirmed to Citizen that no expense has been spared by the King in his quest to sell Bahrain as an athletics powerhouse not only in the middle and long distance but also in sprints.
King Khalifa according to the coach has opened the purse strings to ensure that the athletes are well taken care of and paid their training allowances to the last cent.
Shaddad confirmed rumors that Bahrain is largely recruiting youth and junior athletes and not senior world beaters, so that they can be given enough time to be eligible to compete for their adopted nation under naturalization rules set by world athletics governing body- the IAAF and the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
As a sweeter to entice the junior athletes to sign up with them agreements written largely in Arabic, a language they can barely understand, Shaddad told families are given hefty monthly stipends to allow their children to be recruited by Bahrain, way above what any average household in the agrarian area make for years.
Besides Kenya and Ethiopia, Bahrain is also active in South Africa, a nation that produces short distance runners of repute
In support of Shaddad's revelations, the Bahrain King reportedly paid her USD 500,000, equivalent to Ksh52m for the gold medal besides her lucrative monthly earnings and in comparison, double 800 meters Olympics gold medalist and world record holder David Rudisha, running for Kenya earned about Ksh1m (about USD10,000) from the Government for his heroics in Rio.
The legality of Jebet's switch as a junior remains controversial but Bahrain insist what they are offering Kenyan minors are athletics scholarships and not jobs following the precedent set by USA and Japan who over the years.
For instance, an informer told Citizen that the Bahrainis brought State of the Art equipment to the Kapsabet hotel they are based never before seen on this land that can compile minute detail of each individual runner to give coaches crucial data on performance, conditioning, medical monitoring and much more.
Citizen TV and Digital managed to track one of the athletes who is in the process of being naturalized by Bahrain and owing to the sensitive nature of the information he provided, his name has been changed to Kipsang.
"I have already signed a contract with the recruiters and I hope to travel to Bahrain later this year where I will officially adopt their nationality and retain my Kenyan identity since the new Constitution allows dual citizenship," Kipsang who was speaking so softly perhaps out of fear talking to the press will jeopardize his money-minting dream uttered.
Another athlete by the name of Amon said, "Money is the issue. If you do not take care of athletes then they will move to the other side. They are paying well. If you come to Kapsabet, you will see the ones who are running for other countries are doing so well."
"Why is Kenya not doing so for our athletes? Some have even gone to join the Bahrain team in training hoping they will be selected to join," Amon stressed.
Bahrain had announced on July (2014) that runner Ruth Jebet, of Kenyan origins, won the first golden medal for Bahrain in the US-hosted youth athletic sports world championship.
This comes at t time when Bahrain is detaining its athletes and violating their right. It's worth mentioning that the number of detained Bahraini athletes is 120, all of whom are registered and sports federation.
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