Track legend Tergat to rival Kipchoge for Nock presidency

Paul Tergat at the IAAF/LOC press conference in Kampala. (PHOTO/Roger Sedres/IAAF)
Paul Tergat at the IAAF/LOC press conference in Kampala. (PHOTO/Roger Sedres/IAAF)

Kenyan track legend Paul Tergat has entered the race for the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock) presidency, setting the stage for a titanic showdown with incumbent Dr. Kipchoge Keino who declared his reelection bid on Tuesday.

In a letter sent to newsrooms on Thursday, the five-time World Cross Country senior men champion fronted the need to have a ‘strong sense of togetherness as an Olympic family’ as he officially declared his candidature for the national body’s top job.

“After serving the nation as an athlete for more than two decades, today marks another new chapter as I join another race in my career. For a long time, I have watched from the periphery in as far as the management of sports is concerned.

“At times, I have played peripheral role just to ensure that the interests of athletes are taken care of.
However, time has come for me to lead from the front and it’s an idea I have thought of very carefully and consulted widely, too,” Tergat, a two-time Olympic 10,000m silver medallist said in part.

His announcement comes two days after Nock officials finally voted to adopt a revised constitution after a series spats with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), an exercise that paved way for fresh elections and that could spell the end of the long reign of the current senior Executives.

Tergat, a former world marathon record holder was among only two Nock Exco Members that declined to vote as a bloc with their colleagues led by the revered Olympics Laureate and now his rival Dr. Kipchoge when they shot down a vote to amend its constitution earlier this month before a financial freeze and the prospect of further IOC sanctions on the national body prompted a reversal of that decision.

“I am sure you are aware of the push and pull we have had at the National Olympic Committee Kenya over the adoption of a new constitution in the last few months.

“However, the course is now clear with the passing of the new document and we can only look to the future with confidence. It is against this background that I declare my candidature for the position of Nock president ahead of the elections scheduled for May 5.

“My aim is to create a strong sense of togetherness in a bid to have a strong cohesion as Olympic family in this part of the world.

“I believe by offering the best to our sportsmen and women, we can finally create a feeling of inclusiveness. I am ready to serve the sporting fraternity and I am sure with my connections around the world, coupled with your support, we will take Kenyan sports to the next level,” the former cross country king said.

The new constitution strips the incumbent Nock executive committee members, including Kipchoge, of a voting monopoly which allowed them to maintain their grip on power.

Under the previous system, the 13 members of the executive committee each had a vote, while the 21 sports associations had one vote per body.

It also allows athletes to run for membership of the executive committee, a departure from the old system where only the heads of national sports associations were eligible to run for office.

Tergat, 48, won a total of 13 World Cross-Country Championships, two consecutive World Half Marathon Championships, and two silver Olympic medals for the men’s 10,000 meters in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

He won five straight IAAF World Cross Country Championships titles between 1995 to 1999, which was a record.

Through his Paul Tergat foundation, the Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA founder continues to raise awareness about the global issue of hunger.

Tergat’s achievements also include five victories in the traditional Saint Silvester Road Race, the most important event in Latin American street racing.

He holds the record for the present 15 km distance, which he established in 1995. His performances in the Saint Silvester race have earned him celebrity status in Brazil.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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