Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football (soccer), rugby union and boxing. But the country is known chiefly for its dominance in Middle-distance and long-distance athletics.

Athletics

Kenya has regularly produced Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions in various distance events, especially in 800 m, 1,500 m, 3,000 m steeplechase, 5,000 m, 10,000 m and the marathons. Kenyan athletes (particularly Kalenjin) continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco and Ethiopia has reduced this supremacy. Kenya's best-known athletes included the four-time women's Boston Marathon winner and two-time world champion Catherine Ndereba, former Marathon world record-holder Paul Tergat, and John Ngugi.

Kenya won several medals during the Beijing Olympics, 5 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze, making it Africa's most successful Nation in the 2008 Olympics. New athletes gained attention, such as Pamela Jelimo, the women's 800m gold medalist who went ahead to win the Golden League jackpot, and Samuel Wanjiru who won the men's marathon.

Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty 1970s and was followed by Commonwealth Champion Henry Rono's spectacular string of world record performances.

Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other countries, chiefly Bahrain and Qatar.[1] The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the United States.[1] Most of these defections occur because of economic or financial factors however some elite Kenyan runners who cannot qualify for their country's strong national team also find it easier to qualify by running for other countries.

Volleyball

Kenya has also been a dominant force in ladies' volleyball within Africa, with both the clubs and the national team winning various continental championships in the past decade. [citation needed] The womens' team has also competed at the Olympics and World Championships but without any notable success.

Cricket

Main article: Cricket in Kenya

Cricket is another popular and the most successful team sport. Kenya has competed in the Cricket World Cup since 1996. They upset some of the World's best teams and reached semi-finals of the 2003 tournament. They also won the inaugural World Cricket League Division 1 hosted in Nairobi and participated in the World T20. Their current captain is Steve Tikolo.

Rugby union

Kenya is making a name for itself in rugby union. It is popular in Kenya especially with the annual Safari Sevens tournament. Kenya sevens team ranked 9th in IRB Sevens World Series for the 2006 season.

Football

Kenya was a regional power in soccer but its dominance has been eroded by wrangles within the Kenya Football Federation.[2] This has led to a suspension by FIFA which was lifted in March, 2007.

Motor Sport

In the motor rallying arena, Kenya is home to the world famous Safari Rally, commonly acknowledged as one of the toughest rallies in the world,[3] and a part of the World Rally Championship for many years until its exclusion after the 2002 event owing to financial difficulties. Some of the best rally drivers in the world have taken part in and won the rally, such as Björn Waldegård, Hannu Mikkola, Tommi Makinen, Shekhar Mehta, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Though the rally still runs annually as part of the Africa rally championship, the organisers are hoping to be allowed to rejoin the World Rally championship in the next couple of years.

  1. ^ a b IAAF: Changes of Allegiance 1998 to 2005
  2. ^ New Vision, June 3, 2004: Wrangles land Kenya indefinite FIFA ban
  3. ^ The Auto Channel, July 21, 2001: FIA RALLY: Delecour takes points finish on Safari Rally debut