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Van veedrijver tot miljonair

21 januari 2014 (0 reacties)

Redactie hardloopnieuws-Richard Yatich is in Nederland bekend geworden vanwege zijn overwinning in de Zevenheuvelenloop van 2003. De onbekende Yatich werd naar Europa gehaald door het zogenaamde Dream Team van de Belg Marc Vermeire en liep wat kleine wedstrijden in Nederland totdat hij als volslagen onbekende inschreef voor de Zevenheuvelenloop en Paul Tergat versloeg. Daarna ging het snel. Yatich “verhuisde” naar Qatar., kreeg een andere naam Mubarak Shami en werd een veelgevraagd atleet. Afgelopen jaar werd hij nog op de streep geklopt bij het WK halve marathon in Edmonton.Zijn bestaan in Europa als onbekende Kenyaan werd onlangs nog op de Nederlandse TV vertoond, in een VPRO documentaire.


Mubarak Shami

Herdsboy turned Qatari Millionaire

Door James Wokabi

Kenyan athletes who have defected from their land of birth are not the most popular of figures back home; but in Baringo, Mubarak Shami is treated like royalty. During the Baringo Half Marathon last month, the man formerly known as Richard Yatich pulled in the crowds and was mobbed at every turn by fans.

Naar Qatar
The announcers statement, “Tukaribishe mtoto yetu,” (lets welcome our son) Mubarak Shami before the race summed up the mood.Shami is that rare exception of an athlete who has switched citizenship and still retained a fondness in the hearts of the folk back home.There is a brutal realism both in how Shami describes his decision to switch nationality and how the villagers view it.”I dont regret changing my citizenship because I stay here (in Kenya) and train here and the change is just the name, nothing more. Even my fans call me by my local name,” says Shami.”I changed my citizenship for working purposes. I became Qatari because there was no chance for me here. There are too many athletes here and lots of politics (involved) in getting a chance but in Qatar, there is none of that.”According to Mama Selina Chepchumba, one of several hundred fans who turned up to watch the race, the defection is no big deal.

Dubbel leven
“Its just work, let him go make money because that money helps his family back here.”The phenomenon of athletes switching nationality to represent the oil-rich gulf states is one of most controversial — and vexing — issues in world athletics.Countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and the gulf of Emirates have been seeking to raise their profile by pumping in vast sums of money into sport.Their investments in such disciplines as horse racing and Formula One means that some of the biggest annual events in the calendars of those disciplines now take place in the Gulf.But it is the money they have pumped into athletics that has had the most unwelcome effect on countries such as Kenya, whose top runners have defected from their countries to represent foreign nations in return for handsome monetary reward.Irked by the spate of defections, former Sports minister Ochillo Ayacko at one time directed immigration authorities to treat the defectors as foreigners and subject them to full immigration procedures at Kenyan airports.As Shamis story illustrates, however, the ‘Kenyan Qataris live a double life and remain Kenyans in all but name.

Armoede
Shami, for example, owns nothing in his adopted country and only stays there for only three to four weeks in a year.
The rest of the time is spent either in Kenya or Europe.Born in a family of three, Shami had a very difficult childhood. His father was mentally unstable and abandoned the family when they were still young. The cruel hand of fate struck again in 1987 when his mother died. The family was shattered with siblings going off to live with relatives and other wellwishers.After finishing his primary school education, Shami could not raise fees for secondary school and instead took up a job as a herdsman earning Sh1,000 a month.”I got a job to herd animals and I used my salary to support my brother who was then in secondary school. Later, it was raised to Sh1,500 but it was never enough to sustain us,” he says. Running provided the only possible outlet from his misery, and Shami decided to double his efforts in training in a bid to break into the big time.

Erkenning
“There was a serious drought in 2000 and that is when I started training. I would train in the morning then go work in the afternoon,” he says. A chance meeting with 1992 Olympic champion Mathew Birir, in 2001, changed his fortunes. “He (Birir) changed my life; he gave me an opportunity to train and run as well as valuable advice.”Despite performing creditably in a number of local races, Shami found it hard to get by, as he was rarely picked for the big races. And in a bid to advance his career, he decided to turn to the gulf, in 2004, after the national cross country championships.”I had become frustrated with the lack of opportunities within our set up. Despite my valiant efforts, I couldnt get into any of the teams and I feel there was a deliberate attempt to frustrate me and that is when I made the decision to look elsewhere. I actually approached Qatari athletics officials and expressed my desire to switch my nationality,” he says.Shami claims life has been rosy for him in the gulf.”They offer an opportunity for athletes. Relations with the federation are excellent as the federation is open with you. They take care of you and your needs and are punctual in their payments,” Shami adds that the Qataris show appreciation for athletes achievements. “In Kenya there is no recognition, all you get is a congratulatory message, a thank you and nothing else! That is wrong because that person has achieved a lot and needs to be shown respect and appreciation.”But like now if I were to win gold, I am assured of proper recognition. The incentives can go up to $30,000 (Sh2.25 Million) which you cannot get here.”Qatar, he adds, caters for athletes training, paying for training facilities, a coach and all the logistics involved as well as paying close attention to the athletes training programme.He cites last years world half marathon championships where he finished second and his adopted country fourth as an example.”I was paid my bonuses both as an individual and as a team member almost immediately and even the prize money we had won in Edmonton was shared among us.

Weer tegen Tergat
Compare this with the Kenya team which was almost thrown out of its hotel due to outstanding bills,” he says.There is a double irony in Shamis claims of finding bliss in his adopted country because not only does he spend almost all his time in Kenya, but has also invested in a number of properties locally.He is currently developing a plot in Eldama Ravine and also has another parcel in which he has built a residential house but would not be drawn on its precise location.To stem the flow of athletes out of the country, he says, the athletics federation ought to be put in the hands of top athletes like Paul Tergat, Moses Tanui and Moses Kiptanui who, he claims, appreciate the needs of athletes and know what it takes to make it as a successful athlete.”When was the last time we had the (Athletics Kenya) officials visit Iten which is the hub of athletics in this country or even Nandi or Elgeyo just to see how the athletes are doing? You never see them. They have no idea how we train until we reach the national levels,” he says, adding:”The contrast is that the Qataris are very concerned. They keep a watch of what you are doing and how you are getting along. They seek you out and if you have a problem they take you to hospital and generally show concern,” he says.Shami is now looking forward to a busy year with the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan and the London Marathon where he eagerly anticipates a tough race against his hero and role model, Tergat. “It will be tough against Tergat because he is experienced but I beat him in a 15km race in Holland in 2003 so I will just give it my best shot,” he says, before sauntering off to have a discussion with yet another group of excited villagers.

© Eastern Standard

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Van veedrijver tot miljonair

29 januari 2006 (0 reacties)

Redactie hardloopnieuws-Richard Yatich is in Nederland bekend geworden vanwege zijn overwinning in de Zevenheuvelenloop van 2003. De onbekende Yatich werd naar Europa gehaald door het zogenaamde Dream Team van de Belg Marc Vermeire en liep wat kleine wedstrijden in Nederland totdat hij als volslagen onbekende inschreef voor de Zevenheuvelenloop en Paul Tergat versloeg. Daarna ging het snel. Yatich “verhuisde” naar Qatar., kreeg een andere naam Mubarak Shami en werd een veelgevraagd atleet. Afgelopen jaar werd hij nog op de streep geklopt bij het WK halve marathon in Edmonton.Zijn bestaan in Europa als onbekende Kenyaan werd onlangs nog op de Nederlandse TV vertoond, in een VPRO documentaire.


Mubarak Shami

Herdsboy turned Qatari Millionaire

Door James Wokabi

Kenyan athletes who have defected from their land of birth are not the most popular of figures back home; but in Baringo, Mubarak Shami is treated like royalty. During the Baringo Half Marathon last month, the man formerly known as Richard Yatich pulled in the crowds and was mobbed at every turn by fans.

Naar Qatar
The announcers statement, “Tukaribishe mtoto yetu,” (lets welcome our son) Mubarak Shami before the race summed up the mood.Shami is that rare exception of an athlete who has switched citizenship and still retained a fondness in the hearts of the folk back home.There is a brutal realism both in how Shami describes his decision to switch nationality and how the villagers view it.”I dont regret changing my citizenship because I stay here (in Kenya) and train here and the change is just the name, nothing more. Even my fans call me by my local name,” says Shami.”I changed my citizenship for working purposes. I became Qatari because there was no chance for me here. There are too many athletes here and lots of politics (involved) in getting a chance but in Qatar, there is none of that.”According to Mama Selina Chepchumba, one of several hundred fans who turned up to watch the race, the defection is no big deal.

Dubbel leven
“Its just work, let him go make money because that money helps his family back here.”The phenomenon of athletes switching nationality to represent the oil-rich gulf states is one of most controversial — and vexing — issues in world athletics.Countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and the gulf of Emirates have been seeking to raise their profile by pumping in vast sums of money into sport.Their investments in such disciplines as horse racing and Formula One means that some of the biggest annual events in the calendars of those disciplines now take place in the Gulf.But it is the money they have pumped into athletics that has had the most unwelcome effect on countries such as Kenya, whose top runners have defected from their countries to represent foreign nations in return for handsome monetary reward.Irked by the spate of defections, former Sports minister Ochillo Ayacko at one time directed immigration authorities to treat the defectors as foreigners and subject them to full immigration procedures at Kenyan airports.As Shamis story illustrates, however, the ‘Kenyan Qataris live a double life and remain Kenyans in all but name.

Armoede
Shami, for example, owns nothing in his adopted country and only stays there for only three to four weeks in a year.
The rest of the time is spent either in Kenya or Europe.Born in a family of three, Shami had a very difficult childhood. His father was mentally unstable and abandoned the family when they were still young. The cruel hand of fate struck again in 1987 when his mother died. The family was shattered with siblings going off to live with relatives and other wellwishers.After finishing his primary school education, Shami could not raise fees for secondary school and instead took up a job as a herdsman earning Sh1,000 a month.”I got a job to herd animals and I used my salary to support my brother who was then in secondary school. Later, it was raised to Sh1,500 but it was never enough to sustain us,” he says. Running provided the only possible outlet from his misery, and Shami decided to double his efforts in training in a bid to break into the big time.

Erkenning
“There was a serious drought in 2000 and that is when I started training. I would train in the morning then go work in the afternoon,” he says. A chance meeting with 1992 Olympic champion Mathew Birir, in 2001, changed his fortunes. “He (Birir) changed my life; he gave me an opportunity to train and run as well as valuable advice.”Despite performing creditably in a number of local races, Shami found it hard to get by, as he was rarely picked for the big races. And in a bid to advance his career, he decided to turn to the gulf, in 2004, after the national cross country championships.”I had become frustrated with the lack of opportunities within our set up. Despite my valiant efforts, I couldnt get into any of the teams and I feel there was a deliberate attempt to frustrate me and that is when I made the decision to look elsewhere. I actually approached Qatari athletics officials and expressed my desire to switch my nationality,” he says.Shami claims life has been rosy for him in the gulf.”They offer an opportunity for athletes. Relations with the federation are excellent as the federation is open with you. They take care of you and your needs and are punctual in their payments,” Shami adds that the Qataris show appreciation for athletes achievements. “In Kenya there is no recognition, all you get is a congratulatory message, a thank you and nothing else! That is wrong because that person has achieved a lot and needs to be shown respect and appreciation.”But like now if I were to win gold, I am assured of proper recognition. The incentives can go up to $30,000 (Sh2.25 Million) which you cannot get here.”Qatar, he adds, caters for athletes training, paying for training facilities, a coach and all the logistics involved as well as paying close attention to the athletes training programme.He cites last years world half marathon championships where he finished second and his adopted country fourth as an example.”I was paid my bonuses both as an individual and as a team member almost immediately and even the prize money we had won in Edmonton was shared among us.

Weer tegen Tergat
Compare this with the Kenya team which was almost thrown out of its hotel due to outstanding bills,” he says.There is a double irony in Shamis claims of finding bliss in his adopted country because not only does he spend almost all his time in Kenya, but has also invested in a number of properties locally.He is currently developing a plot in Eldama Ravine and also has another parcel in which he has built a residential house but would not be drawn on its precise location.To stem the flow of athletes out of the country, he says, the athletics federation ought to be put in the hands of top athletes like Paul Tergat, Moses Tanui and Moses Kiptanui who, he claims, appreciate the needs of athletes and know what it takes to make it as a successful athlete.”When was the last time we had the (Athletics Kenya) officials visit Iten which is the hub of athletics in this country or even Nandi or Elgeyo just to see how the athletes are doing? You never see them. They have no idea how we train until we reach the national levels,” he says, adding:”The contrast is that the Qataris are very concerned. They keep a watch of what you are doing and how you are getting along. They seek you out and if you have a problem they take you to hospital and generally show concern,” he says.Shami is now looking forward to a busy year with the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan and the London Marathon where he eagerly anticipates a tough race against his hero and role model, Tergat. “It will be tough against Tergat because he is experienced but I beat him in a 15km race in Holland in 2003 so I will just give it my best shot,” he says, before sauntering off to have a discussion with yet another group of excited villagers.

© Eastern Standard

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