Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I was watching New York Marathon and at the same time trying to keep tabs of Tiger Woods Birdies and boogies over the weekend but must say the Marathon won over golf(yes I'm boring like that).I love sports -watching some of them that is. Anyway that is besides the point. New York Marathon was held on Sunday Nov 6,2005 and it is considered one of the best Marathon event in the world. The New Yokers knows how to make a fuss about this day, too bad P diddy, Diddy ,Sean Combs or whatever he calls himself these days didn't participate this time around:-)

Of all the Kenyan Marathoners, I think Paul tergat is the most graceful and charismatic of all. Many have come, won a marathon or two and fizzled out but this man is as strong as ever. I watched as he held strong from his opponent from SA and even after he run through the victory tape, when his opponent had for a second there looked like he had passed out or was it the disbelieve that he could not shake him off:-), Paul looked calm and he had this awesome smile of victory and man, that was just impressive and bravo to him for making us proud once again!!!

I'm very business minded person and I see how much he is worth. Watching Paul Tergat in the largest Stock Exchange Market (NYSE) was impressive and I confess I have not seen many Kenyan faces in NYSE apart from those who work there(are there?) but then I thought does he know he can be among the movers and shakers of this world with his acquired Celebrity self! A nobody does not just walk in to NYSE as a guest.This honor is bestowed to who and who of this world and I hope he realized that. I was proud to see that image of Paul. Anyway he is on the right track of using his celebrity status apart from buying plots and plots of land , he has a book out "Paul Tergat- Running to the limit". I'm sure it won't be on the list of Oprah must read but that is a start.

I have always been critical of our Marathon runners and why they have not exploited their "celebrity stature" to cash in apart from going to the extreme of changing their citizenship to make the buck. I feel there are many areas that have been left unexploited by these runners. They need to market themselves as a product or a service for that matter. Advertising is one way but that is to the discretion of the product owner and how much they want their product associated with a certain figure . How about some sort of sports clinics, talk shows, motivational speaking, etc. If I were their manager I would approach every talk show in town especially the Marathon week to have for instance Paul as a guest, talk about himself and in doing so pitch for his book free of charge on the show. I know many people who would buy it after watching the show - yes Americans tends to be gullible like that:-)

Seriouly, I would have the runner take some public speaking lessons(Toast Master classes maybe) so that he/she can speak articulately and woo the advertisers with eloquent speech(hoping they won't say ,he speaks so well:-) , charisma and confidence. I would have the runner appear in as many functions and be out there when not in training to create the buzz if you may .

Anyway as they say "the more you know" the more ......:-) because our athletes are being exploited by the so called foreign managers who have landed in rift valley and recruited these young men. Where are the entreprenuer Kenyans who up until now have let foreigner take charge of our products?. If you watched Jerry Maguire and the art of an athlete agent/manager, then image, image image!!!To make the deal you need an image,yes the skills are important but image sells.The so called agent are so much snoozing in this arena with our athletes.

So as long as Kenyan Marathoner do not look at their sport as a business then they will continue defecting and blaming the government for forgetting them but the government cannot soley take the blame. Why should it? The minister of sports should not take the blame solely as well. I also blame the wananchi in general, Why? we have not even acknowledged our own as world celebrities, our Upcoming "hip hop 50cents wannabes" are more embraced than a real talent which is unique to our dear country; those who have had our flag fly high in many corners of the world. Or is it that the the marathoners are not cool enough ? I see Rugby and Cricket (have they ever won gold for Kenya ?) more embraced than the marathoners if you ask me but again who is asking?. If we embraced the marathoners and make a "fuss" about them and make it cool, then the government would pay more attention and the world would definitely make a fuss outta of our Marathoners, don't Y'all think?
I may be wrong though because it seems after all these years , when Standard introduced the Nairobi Marathon and a few celebrity were "Camera caught" it has become "cool" but don't we ever forget who have made it cool ater all!


Acolyte said...

I am number one!Good post.There was a similar article in the standard about how runners are an unused brand in the Kenyan market.Yes many of them need to speak, the endearing shot of a kenyan runner who is panting after a race and is asked when he learnt to run and y,then he goes "father run,mother run,when i take care of goats and lion grab goat.I run after lion and take goat from it!"
But yes I think out athletes are among the last idols that our youth have to look upto.

tomas said...

its so obvious but i'll still say it
Paul Tergat is one of the last few remaining heroes left for us to look up to in Kenya and around the world.

Irena said...

Acolyte: ha!ha! "mother run , father run etc" has made my morning :-) True dat though. Seriously, David Beckham of Real Madrid former Manchester Uni.soccer star is a world phenomena due to image. He makes more on endorsements than soccer itself. Well it helps if one is cute:-) but this is the real world and Kenyans have to move with the times.

Tomas: Yes it is obvious but there are still others who are creme de la creme of the Kenya marathoners but no one has really paid them attention and again depends on how their agents are marketing them and with many of them changing citizenship and names, or threatening to do so, it is hard to identify them anymore.

Adrian said...

really nice post here!

lol@ "he speaks so well :-)"

you get bonus points for mentioning jerry maguire, one of my favourite movies.

we (myself included) probably take our athletes for granted. and blaming the system back home won't help, we the wananchi need to embrace our heroes. this is something i hadn't realised until i did a post on the world championships in helsinki and someone pointed it out to me.

Irena said...

Adrian: Yep loved Jerry Maguire -"show me the money" and cuba goodings abs were to die for:-)

s! said...

that's a really good point.. who better to promote Kenya and our athletics than our athlete-ambassadors themselves.. after all, they know best the trials and tribulations they have faced..

a lot of our heroes have to stand up and take charge.. Moses Kiptanui, John Ngugi, William Tanui, Samson Kitur, Moses Tanui, Paul Tergat.. and women like Sally Barsosio, Tegla Lorupe too, just like Kip Keino did.