In a candid interview on Citizen Television Friday night, Rio 2016 800 meters bronze winner Margaret Nyairera Wambui confessed she had – in the past – contemplated ditching Kenyan for a foreign country because “Kenya does not know how to reward her medal winning athletes”.
Ms Nyairera observes despite making crocks of gold from representing Kenya internationally, she still needs a perk from her nation to always feel motivated to give her best.
“We make quite a good amount of money from athletics. However in Kenya, the reward system for athletes and sportsmen who put the country on a global map is not encouraging,” she told host Lillian Muli.
“When I compare Kenya’s reward system to other countries, I feel discouraged, especially when you get to know about the money athletes from other countries are being given just for qualifying for international races. In Kenya, it is even hard to get money for emerging winner in a top flight competition such as Olympics. That explains why athletes in Kenya change citizenship when enticed,” added Ms Nyairera.
“I had also contemplated changing citizenship after a foreign country coach approached me with a good offer. However, I found out that it would take longer – about two to three years – for me to represent the new nation according to IAAF rules.
“I thought to myself two years are enough to considerably advance my career when I actively participate in competitive races. I thus declined the offer to change my citizenship,” said Ms Nyairera.
Margaret Nyairera Wambui won bronze in 1:56.89 in 800 metres race in Rio 2016.
Caster Semenya of South Africa took the gold medal in the Olympic 800 metres in August 20 in a personal best time of 1:55.28 seconds while Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba finished in 1:56.49 seconds to claim silver medal.