MEDALISTS at the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in London last month were richly rewarded Tuesday by leading mobile phone company, Safaricom.
The company gave out Sh17million to 16 athletes and one guide. Gold medalists received Sh1million each and a further Sh1million for world records, while silver medalists and bronze medalists pocketed Sh300, 000 and Sh600, 000.
The highest earner of the day was double Paralympics silver medalist David Korir, who got a Sh2.4million cheque for lowering world records in the 1,500m and 800m events.
Another high earner was Abraham Tarbei, a bronze medalist in the 800m and a gold medalist in the 1,500m T 46 category where he also set a new world record.
Those who pocketed Sh2million each were 800m Olympic champion David Rudisha, who was rewarded for his medal and a world record, Samuel Muchai who won a gold medal in the 1,500m T 11 category and also set a new record.
Muchai’s guide James Boit was also awarded Sh2million for his effort in helping Muchai set a new world record.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore, while presenting the awards, pointed out that the country did well in the games despite reservations about the performance.
“Considering that our athletes competed against world class competitors, some of whom have personal trainers and nutritionist, I believe they did well and that is why we have decided to reward them this way,” he said.
He said there is need to develop short races so that the country can be assured of more medals.
In this regard, he said Safaricom will partner with the Government and other corporate firms to support and fund the development of short races ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
“We have done well in the past in short races, but due to lack of facilities and trainers, it has not been possible to emulate the same result. But we are taking the lead in changing this,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, David Rudisha, who was the overall captain of the Kenyan team, thanked Safaricom for the offer to help in developing short races.
Rudisha, who started competing in 200m, said a lot of athletes are falling off the way due to lack of support.
“Before I made the transition to 800m, I was a 200m runner, but there was a lot of discouragement from people who told me this would not take me anywhere. We need to change this trend because there are many athletes at the grassroots who are talented in the short races but luck support and so they just give up if they cannot make the transition to the long races like I did,” he said.
Athletics Kenya and National Olympic Committee of Kenya did not speak at the function. Sports assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti thanked Safaricom for their support and urged other companies to follow suit.