By Ben Ochieng
NAIROBI, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Kipchoge Keino, one of Kenya's renowned middle and long distance runners, has advised sports federations in Kenya to go back to the grassroots to search for athletics talent.
Keino, who is also the president of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), said late Friday that sports federations should not wait for ready-made athletes but should take part in identifying and nurturing them.
"There is need to move away from the tendency of waiting for struggling youth to surface and then later take credit for their success yet we were not there for them when they were most vulnerable," Keino said in Nairobi during a function to honor the election of Paul Tergat as international Olympic Committee (IOC) member.
"Towards this end, programs should be put in place to discover talented youth in schools and foster them to maturity after which we can then happily claim credit for their exploits."
Keino recently relinquished his IOC seat to Tergat, who is also a former world marathon record holder and five-time world cross country champion after the latter was confirmed to the position in Buenos Aires in September.
Sports federations in Kenya have in the past been accused of failure in discovering talent and only appear onto the scene when the athletes hit it big.
Most of the youth struggle on their own devoid of coaches and using nondescript training methods without proper training and competition gear.
Tergat, who grew up in a family of 17 children amid the hardship and want of rural poverty, discovered his athletics talent only after he joined the military and became a beneficiary of modern coaching techniques and training facilities.
Before that he was resigned to a life of going to bed hungry and waking up the next morning with an empty stomach to trek to school about five kilometers away.
His life changed at the age of eight with the introduction of a World Food Program (WFP) school feeding program in his school, a factor that made WFP appoint him an ambassador.
Keino praised Tergat as an individual who has done a lot for his country during the time he represented Kenya as an athlete.
"We forwarded Tergat's name to the IOC as early as 2004, and although it has been a long wait, it has finally come to fruition."
Tergat said he will use his new IOC position as a voice of sports people.
"When I was still an active athlete, there are times when we spoke, we would be asked: 'whom are you speaking as?' Having been there, I will also serve as a voice of the athletes."
Tergat said his election to the IOC fulfills his long cherished dream of serving the Olympic Movement at the highest level.
"I owe it all to Kenyans for giving me a chance and making me become who I am today," Tergat said.
Tergat becomes the third Kenyan to serve as an IOC member after Charles Mukora (1990-1999) and Keino (1999-2013).