AK outrage as U18 stars left stranded in Kazakhstan
Athletics Kenya (AK) President Lieutenant General Retired Jackson Tuwei lashed out at the Export Promotion Council over an alleged gross maltreatment of junior athletes at the Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
A total of eight athletes who medalled at the IAAF World Under 18 Championship were invited by the EPC courtesy of the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts (MOSCA), through the AK, to attend the cultural exchange held at the Central Asian State but the trip soon turned into a nightmare.
World Under 18 bronze medalist Japhet Toroitich was dragged through the full length of the shambolic outing as he spent out in the cold, thousands of miles away from home, for two days after being left stranded at the Astana International Airport.
“This is why we insisted on a letter of commitment from the Ministry of Sports before releasing the young athletes. What a let-down. I hope they come back safely. Let’s pray for them,” AK boss Tuwei said.
Toroitch, a form four student at St. Patrick’s High School in Iten, Kenya was detained at the airport by the immigration officers since EPC had not secured his visa.
“It was not what I expected, when we were travelling I thought all papers were sorted but things took a wrong turn so fast. On top of the visa mishaps, the officers thought that I had plans to remain there after the Expo since my passport shows that I’m a student.
“Madam Florence Theuri – one of the AK officials – tried to talk to the officers but they refused to listen. At the end they were told to clear and depart so I was left behind,” Toroitich said.
Despair set in for the 17-year-old as his compatriots left for home while he was shown a cold bench that he made his home for the next 48 hours amid strict instructions not to move or wonder off. He went on the first day without food and water.
“They (immigration officers) had my luggage and phone and wanted to give it to Theuri and her colleague to go with it, but I refused since I needed the phone to communicate and have a change of clothes. I had nowhere to sleep and no money to buy myself some food,” Toroitch told Citizen Digital at the Riadha House in Nairobi.
The fatigued bronze medalist, contacted Nairobi and youth chairman Baranaba Korir who organized for his safe travel from Kazakhstan to Dubai and then Kenya through MOSCA.
World U18 silver medalists Lydia Cheruto (800m), and Mercy Chepkirui (2000m steeplechase) had a similar story to tell after they were left stranded in Nairobi on Friday 25.
Korir had to dig into his pocket to pay for their food and accommodation and sent the duo home on Saturday.
Citizen Digital established that Sports Commissioner Maina Kamau from MOSCA who was responsible for the athletes, had left days earlier without the athletes’ and proper coordination on their travel details.
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