Glorious Facade, Mediocre Team Kenya | Tokyo Olympics 2020

In Summary


  • This is Kenya’s poorest performance in comparison to the past three International Olympic events.
  • In the bid to achieve Olympic championship Kenyan Olympians showed great effort considering all factors hindering their peak performance.
  • Athletic-Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his title after winning men’s Olympic marathon.
  • Many questions are yet to be answered on the state of preparedness of our Olympians before the Tokyo games and efforts taken within the games to improve Team Kenya’s performance.

What started off as a high expectation international event slowly deviated into a painful revelation of the state of matters National Sports in Kenya.

During the opening sessions of the 32nd Olympic games in Tokyo that Kenya participated, our Olympians showed a great deal of effort. Battling alongside various talent carefully handpicked from all corners of the earth is expectedly a great fete. However, this time we have been enlightened on the reality of a poor performance at the periodic event.

Whether this year’s result was due to the various hindering factors before and within the games is a matter up for deeper investigation. What sticks out clear is the fact that this year’s performance is poor as compared to previous International Olympic Events.

I am a young Kenyan privileged to have witnessed only few of our previous performances (The 2008, 2012 and 2016 events) and I must confess that I was among those waiting for 2020’s event to witness Kenya’s finest tackle the global greats for the highly aspired Olympic medals. I was hopeful for a moment of immeasurable glory and pride in my heritage as a result of excellent performance by our brothers and sisters at the games. Little did I know that the devastating Covid-19 pandemic would take over the world right before the 2020 event! Surely, its impact on the human race must have translated onto the 2020 games.

I am aware of the negative impact of the global pandemic on the Olympic schedule and the Olympians’ preparation and performance in the just concluded games. I expect that the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) put drastic and sufficient measures in place to weather off the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on Team Kenya. Many questions are yet to be answered on the state of preparedness of our Olympians before the Tokyo games and efforts taken within the games to improve Team Kenya’s performance. I wish to understand this in detail after Team Kenya fly back home.

Away from the negativity, I relish the reality of the triumphant representation Kenyans received at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With our very own Emmanuel Korir (Men’s 800m Champion), Faith Kipyegon (Women’s 1500m Champion), Peres Jepchirchir (Women’s Marathon Champion) and Eliud Kipchoge (Men’s Marathon Champion) leading the pack. The entire team that represented us in Tokyo contributed to this performance. I congratulate all of you. Well done. The fact that we placed 19th globally and top in Africa at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is impressive. This regardless of our slight drop in International rank as compared to the previous Olympic event.

Final Thought

I can only express my state of indifference towards the results from the 2020 Olympics. As proud as I am of the efforts presented by our representatives, I am disappointed by our state of national sports. What I learned from the 2020 Olympics is that we have to make a lot of changes in our sports fraternity. What each brutal loss taught me is that we are not as strong as I have lived to believe. We need reforms in the sector if we are to register better results in the upcoming Paris Olympics. In fairness, I choose to believe that one loss is not sufficient to signify a terrible state but it is, indeed, an eye-opener. One that must not be ignored.

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Illustration by Fabian Blank on Unsplash