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Kenyans sweep in Obama’s birthplace

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Sport may still be frowned upon in Kenya where politics – and political horse-trading – seem to be the nation’s staple, but athletes most certainly continue to positively impact on lives.

Stories of athletes rising from rags to riches might sound cliché, but they must be told to inspire future generations.

The story of Titus Ekiru and Margaret Muriuki Wangare is right down this alley.

On Sunday in Honolulu, the city that brought forth USA’s first black president – Kenyan-American Barack Obama – they continued to remind USA that Kenya won’t just get off the American headlines just yet with a sweep of the Honolulu Marathon titles.

And what’s more, defending champion Ekiru, 27, set a new course record, defending his title in two hours, seven minutes and 59 seconds to become the fastest man over the marathon in the beautiful Island of Hawaii where USA’s 44th president was born.

The wins came hours after another Kenyan, US-based Edward Cheserek, won the curtain-raising mile race on Saturday in three minutes and 53 seconds.

It was 33-year-old Wangari’s marathon debut, and she dedicated her 2:31:09 victory to her ailing mother, Agnes Muthoni Kenyua.

From her race earnings, she can afford better medical care for her beloved mum.

“It’s been tough. My mother was diagnosed with kidney failure but despite her illness, she has been praying for me a lot,” said an emotional Wangari, who left the track (5,000 metres) to focus on the road, making her 42km debut Sunday.

She also dedicated the win to her four-year-old daughter, Lynnolive Jemutai and husband, Jacob Kipchum Yator.

Fellow Kenyan, US-based Betsy Saina, who has been training in Flagstaff, Arizona, was second in 2:31:51.

Saina blamed herself for underrating the tough course in the Hawaiian State capital, failing to match a late lush by Wangare.

“I came here as favourite and I thought I’d push later in the race, but I think I underrated the course a bit,” the Iowa State University running legend told Nation Sport.

In the men’s race, Ekiru led a clean sweep of the podium and said there’s no time to celebrate as he heads back home to prepare for his entry into the rich World Marathon Majors circuit.

He plans to attack the Tokyo Marathon on March 1 and will be knocking on selectors’ doors for an Olympic ticket.

Former winner Wilson Chebet was a distant second in 2:13:13 after experiencing some problems with his right thigh muscle in the second half, with Edwin Koech (2:14:19) completing the Kenyan sweep.

Ekiru, paced by Reuben Kerio, third here last year, peeled away, like an onion, from the lead pack in trademark fashion between kilometre 22 and 23.

Chebet and Koech were unable to respond. Ekiru then motored to the finish alone.

“The pacemakers did a good job,” he said.

“I’d wanted 63:30 at halfway and they did like 63:40, which wasn’t bad.”

“There’s very little time between now and the Tokyo Marathon so I won’t celebrate too much this Christmas when I get back to Kapsabet as I have to start early preparations,” said Ekiru. who shattered the course record of 2:08:27, set in 2017 by fellow Kenyan Lawrence Cherono.

Again, Ekiru’s story has been that of battling poverty to make a living through sport.

The rising star from Turkana didn’t finish primary school education, dropping out of primary school at Kosirai in Nandi County due to his family’s state of poverty.

But his command of English is impeccable and his focus unwavering.

Honolulu Marathon President and CEO Jim Barahal said he would dish out a cheque of $40,000 (Sh4 million) to Ekiru – $25,000 (Sh2.5 million) for the win, $10,000 (Sh1 million) for the course record and a further time bonus of $5,000 (Sh500,000) for running a sub-2:08 time.

Wangare will take home Sh4 million which will most certainly go a long way in assisting her ailing mother.

Leading results from the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday

1. Titus Ekiru (Kenya) 2:07:59

2. Wilson Chebet (Kenya) 2:13:13

3. Edwin Koech (Kenya) 2:14:19

4. Mike Cheshire (Kenya) 2:16:30

5. Jackson Limo (Kenya) 2:17:09

6. Osako Suguru (Japan) 2:17:29

7. Takuya Fukatsu (Japan) 2:19:00

8. Shinya Ohashi (Japan) 2:23:54

9. Taku Harada (Japan) 2:30:32

10. Takaaki Awata (Japan) 2:34:23

1. Margaret Wangare Muriuki (Kenya) 2:31:10

2. Betsy Saina (Kenya) 2:31:51

3. Renee Metivier (USA) 2:43:17

4. Miharu Shimokado (Japan) 2:45:22

5. Kaoru Nagao (Japan) 2:52:55

6. Eri Oda (Japan) 2:55:39

7. Polina Carlson (USA) 2:57:37

8. Rosanna Breslin (USA) 3:04:49

9. Bree Brown (USA) 3:07:47

9. Akiko Patterson (USA) 3:09:14

By Nation

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Health

Parents die of Covid-19 after ‘son who refused to self-isolate infects them’

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A man and his wife have died after their son refused to self-isolate despite being Covid-19 positive, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said on Saturday.

Kagwe revealed how the man who had tested positive believed the virus was a myth and travelled home to visit his parents.

“I received news that a son who tested and turned positive for coronavirus but refused to acknowledge the results because he believed the virus was a myth; went home, infected the parents and sister. Unfortunately, his mother and father succumbed to the virus,” lamented Kagwe.

His refusal to self-isolate saw the family lose the head of the family, two weeks after they lost and buried the mother.

The CS at the same time wondered why Kenyans were upset with the government cautioning them every day about the pandemic.

“We have been accused of talking to Kenyans as if they are retarded; Tumetukanwa. My brother and sisters, I can only implore you to accept that Covid-19 is a reality, Kenyans don’t have to die: this is a condition we can control. We can manage ourselves,” he added.

According to Kagwe, it is not necessary for the government to be insulted for telling people again and again, “but we will not stop. It is better to be bored with the figures than to be bored for three weeks staring at the ceiling of a hospital bed.”

When diagnosed with the disease, Kagwe stressed that the medics advise should be followed strictly, insisting that one should isolate so as not to infect other people.

“It is very unfortunate because we keep warning against such kind of behaviour,” he said.

By NN

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Lifestyle

Sofapaka striker retires at just 32

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Sofapaka FC striker Ronald Okoth has parted ways with the club and effectively retired from the game at just the age of 32.

“I would like to take this opportunity to announce that we have mutually parted ways with Sofapaka FC at the expiry of my contract and also, announce my official retirement from professional football,” a statement posted on his official social media accounts reads partly.

“I want to sincerely thank the entire Sofapaka Football Club family from the President Elly Kalekwa, the whole executive board, the Head Coach John Baraza and his entire able technical bench, backroom staff together with all my fellow teammates for the amazing time we shared as a family and not just as a football club. Playing for this great club with a professional management setting and big ambitions has been without a doubt one of my proudest achievements.”

Okoth now shifts focus to talent management and placement under his RO Sports label.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from professional football as I embark upon a new an exciting chapter in my life. As the founder and CEO of RO Sports and RO Sports Soccer Academy – also as an Information Manager having graduated from Kenya Methodist University with a Bachelor of Science in Information Science degree, other exciting and ambitious challenges wait ahead,” the statement continues.

“At 32 years of age and with other things on the side going on, I have felt that indeed this is the right moment to call off my career on a high after 13 good years of actively chasing a career in football both in the lower leagues and at the top level locally. It’s a new chapter for me filled with immense pride, emotions but most of all excitement for the future,” it adds.

In the 13 years, Ronald Okoth has played for Siaya Rangers, Salem Sportif, Jericho AllStars, Congo United, KEMU FC, Gor Mahia, Mahakama FC, Nairobi Stima, Western Stima, Mathare United, KCB FC and Sofapaka.

By NN

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News

CS Balala revokes blogger from Tourism board over statement on Nairobi National Park

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Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has revoked Pauline Njoroge’s appointment as a member of the Tourism Regulatory Authority board with immediate effect.

In a statement on Saturday, CS Balala said she had been replaced with Standard Group journalist Najma Ismail.

He explained that the ministry had just learned of her past remarks about the Nairobi National Park and could not associate itself with her.

For Ms Njoroge, the appointment was a case of so-near-yet-so-far as it was cancelled 24 hours after gazettement.

In the old, undated post that resurfaced on social media, Ms Njoroge called for the land the park sits on to be put to “better and more profitable use”.

“INTEGRITY”

The remark returned to haunt her, proving once again that the internet never forgets.

“… we have just seen what she tweeted in the past, that Nairobi National Park was useless. We do not want to be associated with such people and such thinking,” CS Balala said.

“The integrity of the park is very important and the government is committed to saving it and any other protected area which is the habitat for our national heritage – wildlife.”

CS Balala regretted that the ministry did not know about Ms Njoroge’s view, as it did not come during her background check, and thanked members of the public who used social media to highlight the issue.

NJOROGE’S VIEW

Ms Njoroge is a Digital Media Strategist and Communication Officer at the NEPAD/APRM Kenya Secretariat under the State Department for Planning.

In her post, she questioned the sense in sustaining the park given that Nairobi is congested.

Below is a screengrab of what she wrote.

Njoroge

REACTIONS

As soon as the Kenya Gazette with numerous parastatal appointments was published on Friday, Kenyans took to social media to highlight Ms Njoroge’s post.

She and many others landed three-year appointment to plum parastatal board positions.

Among them were Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat, former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Halakhe Waqo, former assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria, former vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka’s son Kevin Muasy and former Nairobi Speaker Alex ole Magelo.

On Saturday, some members of the public opposed Ms Njoroge’s appointment while others opposed its revocation.

Via Twitter, one ‘Lord Abraham Mutai’ said, “This is just sad. Denying Pauline Njoroge a chance to serve Kenyans based on what she said a few months ago is unacceptable. People have opinions on diverse issues and people should be allowed to change their minds. This is just making decisions based on emotions.”

Joyline Chebet said it would be ironical to appoint to the board someone who does not believe in tourism.

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