Carvin Nkanata: Kenya’s new sprinting phenom

On May 11 2013, Carvin Nkanata ran his way into the record books. In the ECAC/IC4A athletics meet Princeton, New Jersey, Nkanata won the 200m race in a time of 20.32, a new Kenyan record, eclipsing the previous mark of 20.43 set by Julius Gikonyo 22 years ago. When Gikonyo set that record, Nkanata was only a few months old.

At the time, the 20.32 was the second fastest time in US collegiate athletics while representing the University of Pittsburgh, popularly known as “Pitt”. In June of 2013, Nkanata reached the finals at the NCAA championships and clocked 20.47 to finish seventh in the final. That is the 3rd fastest time ever run by a Kenyan. To reach the finals, Nkanata had clocked a time of 20.29. However that time was declared “wind assisted” and thus ineligible for the official record books. The 20.32 time that Nkanata ran is the second fastest by an African this year, second only to Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa.

Prior to the NCAA championships, Nkanata had been named Most Outstanding Performer at the Big East Outdoor Track and Field Championship Meet. The Big East is the collegiate conference to which the University of Pittsburgh belongs.

Nkanata is in his 3rd year at Pitt which means he has one more year of collegiate eligibility left. He will most likely improve during his final year. Before joining Pitt, Nkanata competed for Iowa Central Community college.

Nkanata was born in the USA on May 6 1991 and grew up in South Carolina. He is internationally affiliated with Kenya and even given an opportunity could represent Kenya well.  I say if given an opportunity because there was the case of PaulVince Obuon who is the 3rd fastest Kenyan over the 200m. This native of Kisumu clocked an impressive 20.54 in the 200m in 2008 but never got to represent Kenya.

The case of Nkanata excelling in the USA shows that decent world class sprinters do exist in Kenya but their potential is not being nurtured to turn them into world class performers.

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