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Why Kenya is not funding German-born Alexandra Malika Ndolo’s Olympic bid

Alexandra Malika Ndolo, a German born Kenyan who participates in Fencing, recently accused the Kenyan government of not supporting her dream of comepting at the 2024 Olympics.

She said this as she revealed she had reached her financial limits in funding herself to many competitions to represent Kenya and was now drowning in debt.

“I have traveled to many competitions without my coach & not once taken a physio with me. For a fencer of my caliber this is not just unusually, it is unheard of. Despite this I have completely exhausted my recourses & built up a debt that is quite frankly threatening my existence. Contrary to the common Kenyan idea of people living in Europe I am not a rich muzungu that has bottomless pockets & can therefore be taken advantage off. I can’t afford to promote fencing in Kenya, assure visibility for the young Kenyan athletes, the young Kenyan coaches & provide results for the officials whilst getting no support whatsoever,” said Ms Ndolo.

She also went on to say that for the past 9 months, all she had been receiving from the Kenya Fencing Federation and sports system was empty words and promises

“I am very sensitive to money problems, because being the child of immigrants usually means growing up culturally richer, but financially poorer than most of your age-mates (I guess there is something about seeing or rather feeling your parents struggle that never quite leaves you). Publicly admitting all of this is very difficult for me, but at this point keeping quiet is taking a toll on my performance, more than any injury or heartache has ever done. To the Kenyan sports system I want to say if you truly want to embrace me, not just with words, if you truly want to be on this road to Paris together, put some actions behind your words,” added Ms Ndolo.

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) responded to Ms Ndolo’s allegations, saying they had informed her of the nature of the infrastructural development and funding in Kenya at the time she spoke to them; and she went on to represent Kenya in international Fencing events.

The Kenyan government continues to be cash strapped since the Kenya Kwanza government took over after the 2022 General Elections.

In their response, the NOCK said Ms Ndolo had been competing for Germany but later expressed her intentions to compete for Kenya at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games as well as other international Fencing competitions.

“Alexandra Ndolo reached out to Kenya Fencing Federation and the Chairman informed her of the current situation in terms of infrastructural development and funding in Kenya. She made her decision with the information at hand to represent Kenya in international Fencing events,” began Francis Mutuku, the Secretary General of NOCK.

He went on to say that under International Olympic Committee guidelines, if an athlete wanted to change nationalities, they have to wait for three years to be allowed to compete under a different nationality. As of 2022, Ms Ndolo was still representing Germany when she participated in the 2022 World Fencing Championships in Cairo, Egypt.

Mr Mutuku further revealed that the German Fencing Federation agreed to release Ms Ndolo to their Kenyan counterparts on September 9, 2023, and on September 17, 2023, the Kenyan Fencing Federation approved her request to change nationality. In another letter dated April 24, 2023, from NOC-Germany, the agreed to give Ms Ndolo a waiver of no objection over her change of nationality.

“The financial support available from NOC-K could not therefore be processed s it comes under the Olympic Solidarity for which the above process needed to be completed. We, however, hasten to add the funds available from these programs just to provide support is not sufficient for all ranking events for individual athletes who may need to participate in several to keep good rankings,” added Ms Mutuku.

The press release further stated that the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports was gearing up for a retreat with NOCK to consider all aspects of qualifications and participation in the Paris 2024 Olympics as well as come up with strategic directions including but not limited to pathways of possible sport towards Olympics.

“Ms Ndolo is among the athletes whose pathway is a priority with very high chances of doing well in the Olympics. The Kenya Fencing Federation, on approval of the change of nationality, is expected to make application to the Ministry for funding based on the existing structure and policies which will have taken cognizance of the Retreat resolutions,” concluded Mr Mutuku.

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