NAIROBI (July 14) - Haron Onchonga Sangore is a happy man indeed. The soft-speaking teacher is the principal of Mogonga Mixed Secondary School, whose athletics camp is changing the pattern of track and field’s demographics in Kenya.
The school in Nyamache sub-county, is one of the youth training centres accredited by Athletics Kenya, where athletes were being trained for the IAAF World Under 18 Championships.
The result, so far, is good and bad. On the bright side, it produced Mary Moraa, the girls 400m silver medallist, and on the not-too-bright side, its athletes did not do so well, especially in the field events.
Moraa clocked 53.31 secs to claim silver behind Barbora Malikova of Czech Republic, who won gold in 52.74 secs.
Kenya’s Team Captain, David Saruni, another product of the school was, arguably a medal prospect in the 400m hurdles, but lane infringement did him in, as he was disqualified on the second day of the five-day global competition.
Joseph Nyakundi Nyaanga performed dismally in the shot putt and discus events where he was knocked out in the preliminaries. Elija Matayo was also knocked out in the first round of 100m after failing to take off from the blocks.
Peninah Akoth, a third year student in Osingo Secondary School in Migori also trains in the camp during school holidays. She apparently was stage frightened in the shot out and bowed out early.
“I am not disappointed. Far from it, I am a happy man because of the effort we are putting there. It is paying as you can see by the performance of Moraa,” Sangore said.
The camp is an off shoot of Keringet Kuresoi Camp, where athletes from Kisii used to train. Peter Angwenyi, Nyanza South AK boss, out up a team of Sangore and Charles Obwogi to start the camp which has brought together a group of youths who are returning sprint events to that part of the country where 1972 Munich Olympic 4x400m gold medallists, Hezekiah Nyamao, Robert Ouko and Charles Asati emerged from. The fourth member of that famous sprint quartet, Julius Sang was from Uasin Gishu. Nyamao and Asati also won 4x400m silver in 1968 Olympics with Daniel Rudisha and Naftali Bon.
ICING ON THE CAKE
Moraa is the icing on the cake of Mogonga Camp. An orphan, whose mother, going by the same name, died on the day she was born, she was brought up by her grandparents, but the grandmother died when she was still very young. The grandfather died only last year.
Sangore has been her guardian ever since adopting her three years ago.
“We have a program in the school where talented students get scholarship. Moraa benefitted from this program. She is an average student who likes biology, science and Christian Religious Education,” said the head teacher.
“She will go far in this event, but with help from well-wishers, we will also produce more sprint talents,” he said.
Moraa runs 100m, 200m and 400m. She won gold in 200m and 400m and silver in 100m in the regional championships in Eldoret last year.
She has been a Kenyan champion in 200m and 400m for three years.
Other former students from the school are Ronald Affia, a 400m silver medallist in the East African Junior Championships in Dar Es Salaam last year, Dominic Mogeni and Isaac Nyairo, both 5,000m and cross country runners who proceeded to Japan last year.
Renowned athletics institutions like Kenya Defence Forces, Police and Prisons have now made Mogonga a favourite hunting ground for athletics talent scouting.
For example, Princelloh Kennedy and Tabitha Odundo (800m) joined KDF, Edwin ole Musa (javelin and 800m) joined Kenya Prisons.