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Kenya’s top five sporting moments of the year 2017

By DAVID KWALIMWA December 30th, 2017 3 min read

2017 was a bitter-sweet year for Kenyan sports lovers who endured triumph and disaster in equal measure. Here are Kenya’s most memorable moments in 2017 – both for good and bad reasons:

1. Losing the 2018 Chan hosting rights –  This should rank as undoubtedly the lowest moment for Kenyan sports fans this year.

After months of what was clearly haphazard and halfhearted preparations, the Confederation of African Football’s patience finally ran out in September as they stripped Kenya of the hosting rights for the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (Chan) tournament.

In arriving at this decision, Caf said Kenya was not ready to host the event owing to lack of adequate infrastructure and security concerns.

To be fair though, it was a verdict that was long in coming even as Kenyan football authorities grappled with insurmountable Caf deadlines while the government remained ambivalent to their chaotic efforts.

But when Caf delivered its verdict, its the long suffering Kenyan football fans who were frustrated the most. The government and clueless football authorities had yet again connived to deny them an opportunity to watch a top continental football tournament in their backyard.

2. Hosting the IAAF World U-18 Championships It wasn’t all gloom, however, as Kenya hosted the IAAF U-18 World Championship at Kasarani in mid July.

Hosting the event came with several success stories, including the dominance of Kenya’s emerging track and field starts. The team’s fourth place finish among some 40 competing nations was indeed commendable.

Then there was the unity and display of affection from Kenyans who thronged the 60,000 seater facility throughout the five-day event to cheer their countrymen and women.

The picture of an ever smiling First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and cheering Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario somehow thawed the soaring political temperatures as the August 8 general election loomed large.

3. Jemima Sumgong’s ban for positive doping test – Another low moment for Kenyan sports. In a classic illustration of how much an athlete’s fortune can change in just one year, Sumgong turned from the heroine who gave Kenya its first Olympic marathon gold medal for women to the disgraced villain who brought shame to the country by returning a positive test for a banned blood booster.

Subsequently in early November, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) handed the 32-year-old – a winner of the London Marathon in 2016 – a four-year ban after the Sports Dispute Tribunal found her culpable for a doping offence.

For all her great achievements on the marathon course, this is one incident will forever blot Sumgong’s otherwise glittering athletics career.


World half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei during a photo shoot in Monaco on November 24, 2017. PHOTO | IAAF
World half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei during a photo shoot in Monaco on November 24, 2017. PHOTO | IAAF

4. Joycilin Jepkosgei – In just a single calender’s year 24-year-old Jepkosgei rose from a ‘none entity’ to a global household name with her world record breaking feat.

In a discipline where Kenyans are ever used to unrivaled success, Jepkosgei deservedly earned herself the enviable title of “queen of world records.”

Her upward curve started in April when she broke four world records at the Sportisimo Prague Half marathon when winning the IAAF Gold Label Road Race. Competing in just her fifth marathon, she also smashed the world records for 10km, 15km and 20km mark enroute to victory.

Still, she was modest in vicory, stating; “I didn’t know I would break the world record today. I only wanted to improve my time. This is a surprise for me. The conditions were good for me because I am used to training at this time of day, in the morning.”

Jepkosgei would cap off a memorable year on October 22, by winning the Valencia Half Marathon women’s race in a record breaking time of 64:51 for her sixth world record of the year.

5. Harambee Stars Cecafa triumph – The best was, however, saved for last as Harambee Stars did the country proud by clinching the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup on home soil.

Kenya, under the tutelage of newly appointed Belgian coach Paul Put, were flawless all the way as they clinched 10-team regional tournament with an unbeaten record.

Rwanda, Burundi and Zanzibar in the final, all fell to Harambee Stars who won the title largely due to the heroics of penalty-saving goalkeeper Patrick Matasi.

For their sterling performance, the team was showered with cash awards running into millions of Kenya shillings from political leaders, team sponsors and Kenyans of goodwill. Match that!

Additional reporting by Steven Omondi