The 2018 season will go down as one of the best for Kenyan juniors as they dominated the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, the Africa Youth Games in Algiers, and the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The season saw the continued resurgence of Edward Zakayo, Cellphine Chespol, Beatrice Chebet, Rhonex Kipruto, Stanley Waithaka, Jackson Kavesa and Edna Jebitok.
And to crown it all for the sport’s national body Athletics Kenya, the IAAF Council session on July 26 in Buenos Aires picked Nairobi as the host city of the next edition of the World Athletics Under-20 Championships set for July 7-12, 2020.
This followed a largely successfully World Under-18 Championships held in Nairobi last year which drew a record turnout of over 60,000 fans attending the event at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Kenya dominated to top the medal standings for the fourth time during the World Under-20 Championships held from July 10–15 in Tampere after the country’s previous exploits in Santiago 2000 in Chile; Beijing 2006 in China and Moncton 2010 in Canada.
Kenya collected 11 medals; six gold, four silver and one bronze; performances highlighted by the 1-2 sweep by Zakayo and Waithaka in the 5,000 metres final and the historic victory by Chebet in the women’s 5,000m in what could be excellent content for a blockbuster Hollywood movie.
What made it a cracker is that Kenya’s sensational juniors claimed sweet revenge against Selemon Barega from Ethiopia, who had beaten them the previous year in the World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi.
Before taking on the feared Barega, the 17-year-old Zakayo won the Kenyan 5,000m trials and went on to claim bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, losing the battle to defending champion Uganda’s promising star Joshua Cheptegei and Mohamed Ahmed from Canada
After winning the Kenyan trials, Zakayo, who had settled for silver in 3,000m a the World Under-18 Championships, would go on to claim sweet revenge against Barega in 13:20.16, snatching the World Under-20 5,000m title from the Ethiopian. Barega won the title in 2016 Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Waithaka settled for silver 13:20.57 as Swede Jakob Ingebrigtsen also denied Barega a medal, going for bronze as the Ethiopian settled fourth.
The form two student at Kapsait High school would then go on to win the Africa 5,000m title in Asaba, Nigeria, beating experienced Getaneh Molla from Ethiopia and Eritrean Yemane Haile Selassie.
Notably, Waithaka made his entry to the Diamond League, clocking personal best 13:10.14 to finish third in 5,000m in Shanghai.
Kipruto won the 10,000m race during the Kenyan trials on his way to winning the World Under-20 10,000m title in a championship record time of 27:21.08 in Tampere, Finland.
Kipruto, 19, had won the Africa Cross Country Under-20 men’s title in Chlef, Algeria in March, exerting revenge against Waithaka, who had beaten them at the Kenyan championships.
It also worth noting that on September 8 in the Czech Republic, Kipruto affirmed his status as one of world’s most promising distance runners when he won the Prague Grand Prix 10km race in a course record time of 26:46, missing compatriot Leonard Patrick Komon’s world record time of 26:44 by just two seconds.
The time is still the fastest in 10km road races this year.
After bagging the World Under-18 Championships 1,500m title in Nairobi last year, George Manangoi, 18, seems to be fully following in the footsteps of his elder brother World and Commonwealth Games 1,500m champion Elijah. He added the World Under-20 1,500m title to his collection with victory in 3:41.71 in Tampere.
The younger Manangoi finished second in Doha (1,500m) and Monaco (1,000m) respectively on his maiden season at the 2018 Diamond League.
Then came Solomon Lekuta. The 19-year-old, who is not related to 800m world record holder David Rudisha, won the Kenyan trials on his way to clinching the World Under-20 800m title, clocking 1:46.35 to lead compatriot Ng’eno Kipngetich (1:46.45 PB) in a 1-2 finish in Tampere. Five days later, Lekuta went on to win the 1,000m race in Monaco on his debut in the Diamond League.
The 19-year-old Chebet, who won the Kenyan trials made history as the first Kenyan girl to win women’s 5,000m title at the World Under-20 when she clocked personal best 15:30.77 for the top accolade in Tampere.
Then Chespol would make it a routine to once again to crash her won Championship Record in retaining her World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase, this time around in 9:12.79. Chespol went on to settle for silver in 3,000m at the Africa Championships in Asaba, where Beatrice Chepkoech ruled.
Miriam Cherop, the 2016 Africa Cross Country Under-20 champion, won this year’s National Cross Country Under-20 title. She finished second at the Kenyan trials on her way to securing silver medal in women’s 1,500m in Tampere.
Kenya won 11 medals in athletics at the Africa Youth Games held July 18-28 in Algiers, Algeria to finish fourth in athletics and 10th overall in the medal standings. They would finish second in athletics with four medals; three gold and one silver at Olympic Youth Games held October 6 to 18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ita Nao, 18 is fast becoming the apparent heir to 2014 Commonwealth and 2015 World javelin thrower champion Julius Yego. Nao hauled 67.18 metres to claim silver at the Africa Youth Games before finishing fourth at the Youth Olympic Games in personal best 74.52m.
Jackson Kavesa claimed bronze in 3,000m at the Africa Youth Championships losing the battle to Berihu Aregawi (Ethiopia) 7:50.98 and Oscar Chelimo (Uganda) 8:00.72.
Despite finishing third in the boys’ 3,000m final at the Youth Olympics, Kavesa won the boys cross country race to give him the gold medal as he beat Aregawi (11.13) and Chelimo (11.28).
Francis Leshoo won the Africa Youth 800m title in Algiers in 1:50.72 as his compatriot Nickson Pariken claimed the 1,500m title in 3:49.64 at the same event.
Jebitok won gold in 1,500m at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, having also settled for silver at the Africa Youth Games.
Martha Nthanze stunned many when she won girls’ javelin throw (500g) at the Africa Youth Games with a throw of 54.12 metres. Nthanze, however, finished ninth with an aggregated score of 93.41m at the Youth Olympic Games.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.