Why do many Kenyan athletes struggle to admit they need to retire?

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 30 – Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei has expressed his bewilderment over athletes who do not want to acknowledge their time in the sport is done.

Tuwei said there has been a longstanding trend of athletes simply shying away from admitting that they have hang their spikes, which leaves their fans and the overall athletics family in the dark.

“One thing I would like to urge our athletes in Kenya…they are very shy to acknowledge and to announce when they are retiring. Very few of them are willing to say when they are retiring. They simply fall off and you only just realise they have retired,” Tuwei said.

By coming to terms with their situation and announcing their retirement, Tuwei said the federation will be able to engage such athletes in various programmes to aid their welfare as well as mentor their upcoming counterparts.

“It is important they acknowledge and say ‘look…thank you very much to Kenyans and to the world. I have run but I have now retired’…just like any other athlete in the world because they normally (international athletes) announce their retirement. This enables us to bring them to a forum like this so they tell us their story on what they have done in their careers,” he said.

 Tuwei, moreover, reminded athletes that retirement is an unavoidable reality, which they should accept, prepare for and embrace when it comes.

“For you active athletes, it comes to a stage where you will retire and unfortunately, athletes retire at a very early age. The oldest athlete who is still active today is Eliud Kipchoge (two-time Olympics marathon champion) at 39. The rest have retired at 30, 32 and 35 and you wonder then what happens to a young man who retires at such a young age and has got a long way to go. What does that person do?” he posed.

He was speaking on Thursday morning at the Weston Hotel, Nairobi, during the launch of the Mwanariadha Pension Initiative.

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The initiative – consisting of an Endowment Fund for retired athletes and a pension scheme for the active ones – is a voluntary endeavour where participants have the opportunity to invest their winnings to be credited upon hanging their spikes.

Through the Endowment Fund, it will also provide retirees with an avenue for assistance in the event of any challenges in their after-athletics lives.

He urged all athletes to onboard the initiative describing it as a new dawn for the sport.

“Whatever you save today will save you for the rest of your life. Many athletes, especially in the villages, live in very difficult conditions. Only eight per cent of athletes in Kenya are doing well so what about the 92 per cent?” he said.

The initiative features CPF Financial Services as the administrator and Cooperative Bank as the custodian with CIC Asset Management as the fund manager.

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