Leonard Komon clocks fastest half marathon debut ever

Leonard Komon clocked 59:14 to win the Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON. He edged out fellow Kenyan Abraham Cheroben in a sprint finish. Prior to the race , Komon had set an ambitious goal of setting a new world half marathon record on his debut. It was highly unlikely however and he did miss the record by 49 seconds. It was however a superb debut that foretells good things to come for Komon. Prior to this, the fastest half marathon debut had been by Moses Mosop who debuted in 59:20 in Milan in 2010.

“I am happy with my performance in my debut race. Of course I ran longer distances in training, but there is always a difference between training and competition. I thought I would be able to run sub 59 minutes. It was a challenge, but at the end there was something missing. But I know what to do and will try to run such a time in my next half marathon,” said Leonard Komon.

Richard Mengich ,Silas Kimutai and Daniel Chebii finished 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively as Kenyans occupied the top 5 positions. All runners had to contend with strong winds which slowed them down considerably.

Leonard Patrick Komon Profile

Leonard Komon first came to the limelight when he was second in the 2008 World cross country championships. He had also finished second in the junior race 2 years earlier. As of March 2014, his personal bests in the 5000m and 10,000m are 12:58.24 and 26:55.29 respectively. However he rarely runs on the track and has never represented Kenya on the track. In 2013 he won the 49th edition of Madrid’s San Silvestre Vallecana, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

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Kenya’s shortcomings in Tokyo and Hong Kong 2014

On the way to the semi-finals of the 2009 Rugby sevens world cup , Kenya eliminated Fiji in the quarter finals. That win seems very distant now as the last few meetings between Kenya and Fiji has resulted in comprehensive wins for the Fijians.

Missed Tackles

Perhaps the most glaring hole in Kenya’s armour is their penchant for missing tackles. Most of the tries scored by Fiji , Australia and New Zealand against Kenya have been a result of one missed tackles. All it takes is one missed tackle which allows the runner to break the gainline and open up spaces for runners who are arriving to support the ball carrier.

One mised tackle results causes the defense to break down leaving several players open

Kenya players fall for basic very basic fakes. It appears Kenyans have forgotten a cardinal rule in playing defense which is to follow the player and not the ball.

It is amazing that back in 2009, then coach Benjamin Ayimba was able to get a stronger commitment to tackling from his players than Paul Treu has done with this current group of players.

Tactical Errors

Kenya’s inability to handle kickoffs has been exploited by several teams, most notably Fiji who have stolen balls. Even in cases where Kenyans received the ball and tapped it back, the ball was often stolen by opponents resulting in easy tries.

Lack of Creativity

Kenya’s straight line running with lack of creativity is easily solved, There are no diagonal runs, no decoy runs. Instead a primary staple of Kenya’s offense is to run straight into a defender which is often like running into a brick wall. And certain teams have perfected the art of turning the ball over on the tackle; This often results in Kenya losing the ball in contact situations. To put it plainly, Kenya’s offense is highly predictable and easy to solve by most decent teams. Truth be told, there was a lot more variety and unpredictability in Kenya’s play when they were coached by Mike Friday.

Lack of a Playmaker

Even former coach Mike Friday remarked on Kenya’s lack of a playmaker. Collins Injera has been tried at this position but he still has the mentality of a winger who can take on several defenders alone.Playmakers usually require people who can think rapidly on their feet and take the right option. Sydney Ashioya did this well when in 2009 he stepped seamlessly into that position after having played on the wing.  Also it is not clear why coach Paul Treu would use real games to experiment with players playing unfamiliar positions.

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Use sports to combat crime

Kenya has of late fallen victim to a crime wave that has surged in most of the major towns. In addition to the crime, there is unrest at the Coast especially amongst muslim youth who have recently fought running battles with police. The primary reason for the crime and unrest is the fact that Kenya now has millions of idle youth. Every year, Kenya churns out approximately 150,000 school leavers. Most of these end up with nothing to do and spend entire days and nights  idling in the estates. And as the saying goes, “An idle mind is the devils workshop“.  Joblessness and the idleness that comes with it pushes many youth towards crime. Idleness also leads to drug use which in turn causes youth to turn to come because it is the only way they can support their addictions.

The government must come up with several strategies to combat this idleness. Clearly putting these youth to work is the best way. But not all will find jobs considering that the youth unemployment rate is 60% . Therefore other strategies must be pursued. One of the best ways to keep the youth busy and engaged in positive activities is via sports.

Build football fields in the estates

During the colonial days and even up the the 1970s, it was a standard policy by the city council to build football fields within estates. As a result, most of the football fields you see in Nairobi today were built by the colonial governments in the 1940s and 1950s, This includes such legendary grounds like Woodley grounds and Jericho sports ground. Many of the greatest football stars Kenya has produced honed their skills at these grounds.

Today however, no new fields are built even as neighbourhoods sprout all over Kenyan cities. Worse still, some of these grounds have been grabbed by well connected individuals. As a result many youth living in neighbourhoods including the sprawling Kibera typically have no fields to play on.

Playing fields such as this one face the constant menace of land grabbers.

The national government and the county governments must reverse this trend by creating space for football fields, basketball fields and even volleyball fields.  Not only will building more fields, keep the youth busy and away from crime, it could help create the next generation of football and basketball stars.

Revive tournaments like Sakata Ball

One of the most unfortunate events that has happened in the Kenyan football scene recently is the cancellation of the Safaricom Sakata Ball tournament. This tournament not only gave youth (both boys and girls) opportunities to keep busy with positive and healthy lifestyle activities, it actually gave them a chance to earn real money. In a country where 60% of youth have no jobs, it was an important avenue for many youth to earn money. The tournament was cancelled because current FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya demanded that the sponsors give him and his federation 10% of the sponsorship money.

It is high time the sports mminister approached Safaricom with a view to reviving that tournament. It was also a good avenue for talented youth to showcase their skills for national league clubs.

Revive social halls

The legendary Muthurwa social hall was built by the colonial government in 1910. During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, it served as boxing hall where young pugilists learned their trade. During this period, Kenya was a global boxing power and Muthurwa social hall, popularly known as “Dallas boxing club”, produced some of the greatest boxers. These included commonwealth games champions like Stephen Muchoki, Mike “Stone” Irungu, as well as Olympic medalists like Ibrahim Bilali and Robert Wangila. Muthurwa social hall has since fallen on hard times. Boxing activities ceased in the 1990s and land the social hall has been the target of well connected land grabbers.

Other social halls have already been grabbed. Rebuilding such facilities could offer youth an outlet for their aggression. Why not give youth a chance to learn the fine art of boxing instead of letting them join gangs like the Gaza gang that has been terrorizing residents in Kayole.

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Geoffrey Kipsang and Gladys Cherono dominate world half marathon

New sensation, 21 year old Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor won the world half marathon championships in a time of 59:07, which is an amazing time considering that there was no rabbit. The time was the fastest time recorded for a half marathon in 2014. It was a good 13 seconds ahead of the second placed finisher, Tsegay of Eritrea. 59:07 is the 4th fastest time in the history of World Half marathon championships. It is also the second fastest winning time in history.

Pre-race favourite Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea was fourth. The second best Kenyan was Wilson Kiprop who was sixth. Eritrea won the mens team event with Kenya finishing second.

Kenya Girls dominate

Kenya occupied the top five positions in the womens event. 30-year old Cherono, who won silver in the women’s 10,000 at the Moscow World Championships last summer, won gold in 67:28 as she turned the tables on Mercy Wacera (silver in 67:43) who had edged her for the title at the World’s Best 10k last month (32:06 to 32:09). This is the e first time in history of World Half Marathon Championships a nation swept the medals in the women’s race.

Kenya Dominance
For the fifth time in history KEN won both men and women’s race in the World half Marathon. Previously then won both in 2010, 1999, 1998, & 1997.

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Koffi Olomide Praises Mugabe as a patriot

President Mugabe is a real patriot who wants to see Zimbabwe and Africa freed from any form of bondage, iconic Congolese rhumba musician Koffi Olomide has said.Koffi, arguably one of Africa’s biggest artistes, is in the country to perform at the wedding of Miss Bona Mugabe and Mr Simba Chikore in Harare tomorrow.

In an interview yesterday, Koffi said no one could contest President Mugabe’s credentials.

“(President) Mugabe loves Zimbabwe and nobody can contest that. He loves his country and Africa. For me an African, I am proud of him because he loves Africa. “He fights for Zimbabwe (to be) free. Mistakes or no mistakes, it is not my matter. He is a real patriot.” said Olomide to the herald

Koffi Olomide performs at Bona Mugabe’s wedding

Koffi was one of the key performers at Bona Mugabe’s wedding. The latter is the daugher of Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe and was marrying Simba Chikore.

Koffi and Cyndi Le Couerr perform at the wedding

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For those wondering what happened to Ronald Gundo

Former Strathmore University and Maseno Secondary basketball star Ronald Gundo left Kenya two years back to pursue a basketball scholarship Stateside. One sports website even inaccurately reported that he was going to play professional ball. But basketball-wise not much has been heard from Gundo since then.

The video above shows that Gundo is still actively involved in basketball.

The video shows Ronald Gundo working on his jump-shot and around the basket moves. It then shows Gundo participate in a game. Clearly he has not lost any of his athleticism as evidenced by his ability to drive to the basket and his shot blocking. And clearly he has been hitting the gym

Gundo first came to prominence in 2010 when he helped Maseno secondary win the national schools basketball title by shocking highly fancied Laiser Hill Academy 54-52 in the finals. Laiser Hill was a school famous for recruiting the best players from all over East Africa and at one time boasted current NBA player Hasheem Thabeet. Beating Laiser Hill on that day was a huge shock.

Gundo was then recruited by Strathmore University in 2011 where he played along with University of Louisiana Monroe star Tylor Okari Ongwae. He also played with Okari for the Kenya youth teams.

Gundo is part of a proud tradition at Maseno Secondary for producing top notch basketball players. Other Maseno products like Collins Onyando and Brian Oduor also made a significant impact in USA college basketball.

Gundo is now affiliated with Valley Forge Military institute. Fans will be curious to see where Gundo’s basketball career takes him next.

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Rudisha should now focus on winning and less on records

Athletics fans all over the world and not just Kenya are waiting with bated breath for David Rudisha’s return to the track after a long layoff. The world beating Rudisha who is easily the greatest 800m runner and one of the best all time athletes, has not run competitively in a year due to a knee injury. He missed the 2013 world athletics championships. At present time, it is said that his knee has healed but he has not regained his leg strength. He will need several months of physical therapy in order to regain the appropriate muscle mass. It is impossible to predict how good Rudisha will be when he comes back.

At the age of 25, Rudisha is still relatively young and should have several more years at the top. But much will depend on how he manages his running. One distinctive featurs of Rudisha is how hard he ran each race.

No matter how far ahead he was, he never slowed down. He probably felt that he owed it to his fans and to the large crowds that appeared at Diamond league meets a record breaking performance. His greatest performance came at the 2012 Olympics when he became the first person ever to run under 1:41:00 in winning the gold medal.

Rudisha going all out

His penchant for pushing himself hard in every race, while it served to entertain fans is likely a contributing factor to his serious injuries.

Dominating the top lists

In addition to holding the world record, Rudisha also owns the three fastest times in the history of the 800m. He owns 6 of the 10 fastest times ever run in the 800m. He has run under 1:42:00 an incredible 7 times. By comparison, Sebastian Coe, who held the world record for 16 years, has only run under 1:42:00 once.

It therefore goes without saying that Rudisha has nothing left to prove when it comes to setting records. When he comes back, Rudisha should now focus on winning and forget the records. He should do the bare minimum it takes to win a race. It is perfectly okay to win a race in 1:45:00. The legendary 800m runner Billy Konchellah did exactly that. He often slowed down when he had the race sewn up.

For the sake of extending his running career, Rudisha should now pace himself and not go all out when he has already won the race. Kenya fans will be eager to see him run at teh 2015 World athletics championships and the 2016 Olympics especially since all of a sudden there is a dearth of decent 800m runners in Kenya. Yet this is an event Kenya is used to dominating.

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Its time Kenya got serious about hosting tournaments

Virtually every month or so, a high ranking Kenyan official declares plans by Kenya to host a major international tournament. One of the first things sports Minister Hassan Wario did when he assumed office was declare that Kenya would bid to host the 2019 world athletics championships. Wario seemed to think that the fact that Kenya was an athletics powerhouse was reason enough for IAAF to award Kenya hosting rights.

Sam Nyamweya’s announcement that Kenya would bid to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations was rightly laughed off by most football pundits. Kenya had initially been awarded hosting rights for the 1996 Africa cup of Nations. This was contingent upon constructing a new stadium in Mombasa. But the rights were taken away because the Moi government refused to disburse the funds needed to build a new stadium in Mombasa. They had initially promised to do so.

No stadium has since been built so what made Nyamweya think that CAF would award Kenya hosting rights especially after the 1996 debacle ?

The real reason that the Moi-government refused to build the stadium in Mombasa was because the KFF Chairman at the time was Joab Omino who was an opposition member of parliament. Moi was afraid that if Kenya succesfully hosted the tournament, the opposition would get all the credit. So he declined to build the stadium. Because of his recalcitrance, Kenya was banned from both the 1996 and 1998 Africa cup of Nations. Thus a talented generation of Kenya players like Musa Otieno, Allan Odhiambo, Vincent Kwarula, Paul Were, Tom Odhiambo, Kennedy Simiyu, John Odhiambo, Francis Onyiso, Tom Ogweno, John Luchuku and all the other Fabisch boys who excited Kenyans in 1996 missed out on an opportunity to showcase their skills to European scouts.

CAF did not take Kenya’s bid for the 2019 tournament seriously. But they ended up giving Kenya hosting rights for the 2019 CHAN tournament. This is a lesser tournament that features only players based in African leagues. Nevertheless considering the chaos that ensued when Kenya hosted the 2013 CECAFA cup, there is a danger that Kenya will once again be embarasse but this time it will be on a continental scale.

A look at Zambia’s new stadia

Zambia has recently completed the construction of two new ultra modern stadium. They are the 60,000 seat Heroes National stadium and the 45,000 seat Levy Mwanawasa. stadium. Construction of the two stadia was completed in 2013 and 2011 respectively. It comes as no surprise therefore that Zambia’s bid for the 2019 Africa Nations cup will be taken seriously while Kenya’s bid is dismissed as a joke worthy of the Vitimbi sitcom.

Heroes National stadium in Lusaka


Levy Mwanawasa stadium in Ndola

Jubilee Promises

One of the promises of the Jubilee coalition during the elections was that they would build 5 new stadia. This is typical of the empty promises that politicians usually give. But one can only hope that there will be at least one new stadium built in Kenya in the next few years. Note that almost all the stadia used in Kenya including the rugby grounds were built by the colonial governments. In 51 years of Independence, Kenyan governments have only seen it fit to build two stadia : Kasarani and Nyayo.

A new stadium built in a stadium like Mombasa would make Kenya’s bid to host a leg of the IRB sevens series more realistic because the IRB prefers to hold tournaments at sea level. This puts Nairobi with its 1600m altitude at a huge disadvantage.

Such a stadium would also make a bid to host the Africa cup of nations more realistic. The attendant financial benefits that come with hosting such tournaments is huge. They also are a significant boost to tourism.

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Tylor Ongwae had a sensational season

This season, Kenyan forward Tylor Okari Ongwae’s made his debut in NCAA division 1 basketball playing for the University of Louisiana Monroe, popularly known as the Warhawks. Ongwae who starred for Kamusinga secondary in 2009 before playing for the national was the starting forward for the University of Louisiana Monroe. He had a superb season in which he led the Warhawks in scoring with 16.2 points per game. He was second in rebounding with 5.8 rebounds per game.

Prior to the season, it had been projected that senior forward Amos Olotayo would lead the team in scoring. But Olotayo went down with an injury early in the season. At the time he had been leading the team with 13.2 points per game. Olotayo’s exit meant that the team would now be highly dependent on Ongwae who had been second leading scorer. Ongwae duly obliged, competently taking over primary scoring responsibilities.

During the season, he had eight 20-plus scoring games on his resume and three double-doubles. He scored 27 points and 11 rebounds in ULM’s season-opening 103-98 victory over arch rivals, University of Louisiana Lafayette,  on Jan. 4. Ongwae recorded 27 points and 10 rebounds against first-place Georgia State on Jan. 25. In the second meeting against the Ragin’ Cajuns, he scored 16 points and 11 rebounds.

In addition to leading ULM in scoring, he led  the Warhawks in free throw percentage (.770) and steals (30) and is second in rebounding (5.8 rpg) and minutes (32.2 mpg). He has played at least 40 minutes in three contests.

His superb performances saw him named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District Second-Team. He was also named to the Sun Belt Conference Third-Team and the College Sports Madness SBC Fourth-Team.

Sunbelt Conference Tournament

After the season comes the Conference tournament, which is similar to the playoffs in the NBA. The intensity of the game usually goes up by several notches. With the increased intensity, Ongwae upped his game. His rebounds per game went up to 6.5 and his scoring went up to 17.7 per game.

Greatest Performance by a Kenyan

Ongwae’s performance is easily the greatest by a Kenyan. There have been other Kenyans who have starred in college basketball in the USA but none have made such an impact in division 1 basketball. In fact most Kenyans who play college basketball in the US tend to play in division 2.

There have been players of Kenyan descent who starred in division 1 basketball such as Robert Nyakundi who led Southern Methodist University in scoring in 2012 and Omondi Amoke who starred for the University of California Bears. But both of them are essentially Americans. They were born and grew up in the USA unlike Ongwae who learned his craft in Kenya and sharpened it at Ranger college in Shreveport Louisiana before joining ULM.

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Angela by Ndombe Opetum

This song marked Ndombe Opetum’s glorious return to TPOK Jazz. He had joined the band in 1975, then left in 1984 on a sojourn in which he formed a band known as Tiers Monde Cooperation along with Sam Mangwana and Empopo Loway. When the band folded, he went solo before rejoining Tabu Ley’s Orchestre Afrisa in 1987. After his stint with Afrisa, he rejoined Franco’s TPOK Jazz much to the delight of TPOK Jazz fans.

He marked his return with this song Angela and a second track (Tawaba). The songs were released around the time of Franco’s passing in 1989.

The song Angela is about a long lost love. The theme of the song is Ndombe Opetum pleading with Angela to come back or at least get in touch with him. The song starts with Ndombe asking : Anje mokolo nini okozonga which means Angela when will you come back. He also says Bolingo na yo esilaka te epai nazali. Which means my love for you is not ending. Ndombe also describes how he prays all day for Angela’s return while thinking about her all day and wondering of Angela has forgotten him.

In part two of the song, the oft repeated chorsu tells about the pain of love then pleads with Angela to send him a message even if it is just via a cassette tape. Since you left , I have not been feeling well.

Anjela eh bolingo mpasi mingi eh
Tindela ngai maloba ata na Cassette
Uta okende na koma malheureux ooh

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