The Olympics have ended in Rio, and how different this one was to London 2012.
In 2012, at about this time, we were swooning because Stephen Kiprotich had bagged our first Olympic gold in over 40 years in the marathon. It was an emphatic win too for Kip.
This time, he was humbled, dropped brutally at the three-quarter point. The marathon is an unforgiving race, as those who have tried it will testify. When I last tried the Nairobi marathon, I ended up sitting on the side of the road, shoes off, toe nails peeled off, crying for my mother.
So Kip was brave, fighting on to come home 14th. Solomon Mutai came in 8th.
To put matters against a bigger canvas, Kiprotich’s reign is the normal expiry rate of Olympic champions – don’t let the remarkable example of US swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt fool you.
Because we have politicians and a president who have kept themselves in power for 30 years, some might think that longevity at the top of the game is a normal human condition. It is not.
I have also read a lot of laments about how our government, and African regimes in general, treat their sports people badly. Yes, they do. But I am not about to call for government money to be invested in national sports.
Britain is truly a remarkable country in the progress it has made in the Olympics over the years. This time it came second to the perennial Olympics topper the USA in medals standing.
The thing about the US and Britain, is that they were probably the two countries at the Olympics where no taxpayer’s money is spent on national sports or the Olympics team.
The US Olympic committee doesn’t get a penny from the federal. Zero. In Britain, it is funded by proceeds from the National Lottery, which was set up by UK prime minister John Major in the mid-1990s, and a bit from the exchequer.
Yet they managed to beat countries like China where the government pours in hundreds of millions of dollars. As we look forward, we need to borrow a leaf from those two countries. When private or quasi-money comes into sports, it reduces inefficiencies.
Sports where countries are not competitive are shunted aside and denied money, and the nonsense of sinking money into a sport for “national pride” is banished.
When there is money from the Treasury, you begin to have things, as I have read in the Uganda media, like people arguing for the inclusion of omwesso in future Olympics to give us a better chance of winning. If you think you can beat those Korean or Chinese kids who play video games until they run mad at omwesso, you need to think again.
The sensible thing for us to do is focus aggressively on granting licences for sports schools. These schools could get some form of tax and import duty exemption, and allowed to buy public land cheaply to set up.
A ruthless system would then be to scout for talented kids from school fields, and even along village paths, in the country. They would be required to have a passing grade, but would get scholarships into the sports schools.