The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951 [LIST]

ATHLETICS The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951 [LIST]

Abigael Wafula 05:30 - 29.02.2024

Here is a list of Athletics Kenya presidents since the formation of the track and field governing body in 1951.

Before Kenya gained independence, athletics in the country had already started blooming and in this article, Pulse Sports analyses the Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951.

From 1951 to 2002, track and field in Kenya was governed by an organization known as the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA).

In 2002, the organization changed its name to Athletics Kenya (AK), the current governing body of track and field.

Archie Evans is credited for starting organized athletics and forming the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) in 1951.

The association was formed as a requirement in any country wishing to send athletes to international competitions, especially the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

Following the formation of KAAA, Kenya was represented for the first time in the 5th edition of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1954 and subsequent championships.

Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951

1) Derek Erskine (1951–1964)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951
Europeans in East Africa

Sir Derek Quicke Erskine was a British settler in Kenya who played a key role in popularising Athletics in Kenya and co-founded the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association, now Athletics Kenya. He was the first president of the Athletics governing body in Kenya.

Erskine was invited to Kenya by a businessman with connections to Lord Delamere, and he soon set up a successful grocery business. In 1951, together with Archie Evans, he co-founded the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA), now Athletics Kenya.

He contributed significant funds to the association, including donating the land on which the Nyayo National Stadium is now built. He was chairman of the association from its founding until a year after independence. Erskine unfortunately passed away on September 6, 1977.

2) Musembi Mbathi (1964–1968)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951
Kenya YearBook Editorial Board

Musembi Mbathi took over from the late Erskine in 1964, becoming the first Kenyan to hold the prestigious position. He finished his term in 1968, and Bartonjo Rotich took over.

The late Mbathi was part of the team that participated in Kenya’s first-ever international event. Earlier in 1954, a nine-man team travelled to Vancouver, Canada to take part in the Commonwealth Games then known as the British Empire Games.

The team included Korigo Barno, Nyandika Maiyoro, Maboria Tesot, Kiprono Maritim, Mbathi, Kiptalam Keter, Jonathan Lenemeria, Lazaro Chepkwony and Paul Kipkorir Boit who was the Team Captain.

They were led by the legendary Archie Evans who had served as the ‘Colony Sports Officer’ since 1947. The Kenyans never won any medal but most of them set regional and national records.

3) Bartonjo Rotich (1968-1972)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951
Standard Sports

The late Rotich was an athlete before being elected as president of KAAA. He specialised in 400m and 400m hurdles. Rotich competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics but failed to advance past the 400m heats and 4x400m relay heats.

At the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, he finished third in the 440 yards hurdles race. By this result, he became the first Kenyan athlete to win a medal at any intercontinental championships.

He competed at the 1960 Summer Olympics and he reached 400 metres hurdles semi-finals and 400 metres quarterfinals. He was then elected as chairman of KAAA from 1968 to 1972. Rotich passed away on October 7, 2019.

4) Charles Mukora (1972-1974)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951
Inside the Games

Born on October 18, 1934, the late Charles Mukora is one of the Athletics Kenya presidents who made significant changes in the sport.

Mukora started by competing in the long jump and triple jump before later taking up the decathlon, urged into the sport by his British teacher John Cowley.

On top of that, Mukora was the man largely behind the success of Olympic trailblazer Kipchoge Keino, in the 1960s and 70s before springing into the sports management limelight himself in the late 70s.

His rise to prominence in Kenyan sport significantly started in 1968 when he took over as national athletics coach from Briton John Velzian who had, in 1965, led the country to the first-ever African Championships in Congo Brazzaville.

In 1976, Mukora was elected into the Council of World Athletics. This was after he took charge as chairman of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association (1972-1974), and, later, as chairman of the Kenya National Sports Council. Mukora passed away on December 27 after succumbing to a long illness.

5) Sam Ongeri (1974–1984)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951
The Standard

Sam Ongeri was born on February 23, 1938, and is the former Senator for Kisii County. Ongeri was elected chairman of Athletics Kenya from 1974 and he ruled for 10 years.

There is no history of Ongeri being a sportsperson. He attended the Gesusu Primary and Intermediate from 1943-51 and then went to Bugema Missionary College from 1952-1957.

He then took a Pre-Medical Course at the University of Delhi from 1959-1961 before taking a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Bombay from 1961-1966.

Ongeri then attended the University of London from 1971-1972, where he learned child health, and then took his Pre-Board Examination at the University of Edinburgh from 1970-1972.

He then became a physician after graduating from Royal College of Physicians from 1971-72. Took a WHO Course in Immunology at the University of Nairobi from 1973-1976.

6) Paul Boit (1984–1992)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951

Paul Kiplimo Boit was born in 1906 in Kipkutu village in Nandi County and he was a very prominent KANU politician during the Moi Regime.

In 1984, Boit took over the reins of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association from Sam Ongeri and ruled for eight years before Isaiah Kiplagat took over.

7) Isaiah Kiplagat (1992-2015)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951
Citizen Digital

Isaiah Kiplagat was the longest-serving Athletics Kenya president, ruling the Athletics governing body for 24 years. He joined the athletics association back in 1975 as the vice chairman during the reign of the then-chairman Mukora.

He took charge in 1992, picking up the button from his predecessor Paul Boit. Kiplagat was very instrumental in ensuring the stability and financial growth of the association during his tenure.

Within the 1st year of leadership, AK managed to gather a surplus of Ksh 5 million, money collected from their savings and sponsorships received and slowly the association started to take shape.

He also introduced strong youth programs with the help of his team, spearheaded by the current president, Jackson Tuwei. Through the youth programs, Athletics Kenya managed to nurture young and upcoming athletes throughout the years, a move that has enhanced good performances from both the junior and senior athletes’ categories.

8) Jackson Tuwei (2015 to Present)

The legends! Athletics Kenya presidents since 1951

Jackson Tuwei, the current AK president, has risen from a military officer in Lanet to become one of the most respected icons in the world of athletics.

From leading a Kenya Army squad that was part of elite squads that subdued a rebel group from the Kenya Air Force during an attempted coup in 1982, to winning elections on the African and world stage, Tuwei’s is writing one chapter after another in the management of athletics.

On top of being the AK president, Tuwei is also the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Senior Vice President and the World Athletics Vice President.

Before his rise to dominate the world of athletics, Tuwei had a decorated career in the military. He fought a number of battles and according to him, he won all of them, including the elections.