The Olympics are finally here and we can already feel the adrenaline rush within the spheres of the sports sector, globally.
This year’s Olympics will have a remarkable 33 sports contested, this is of course the highest number since its establishment in 1896. A Top End Sports article (https://www.topendsports.com/) notes that the first Olympic Games in 1896, had only nine sports contested, thereafter, other sports have continued to be added (and removed ) from the program. This is a clear indication of the decades of growth for sports games, which in turn translates to an increased number of athletes.
Kenya made its maiden appearance at the Olympics in 1956, winning its first medal, a bronze, in 1964. In 1968, Naftali Temu, Kipchoge Keino and Amos Biwott brought home gold in the Men’s 10000 m, Men’s 1500 m and Men’s 3000 m steeplechase respectively. Athletics and Boxing had been synonymous with Kenya at the Olympics in the early years, however, now, with the inclusion of more sports including team sports, we are seeing an increased diversity in the type of sports athletes we are developing to participate in games.
For instance, this year, Kenya will participate in the long distances races, as well as in the 100m sprints, after Ferdinand Omanyala and Mark Otieno hit Olympic qualifying times. In addition to this, Kenya will be well represented in rugby after both the male and female sides qualified. The other sports are Volleyball, Taekwondo and Boxing. With over 80 athletes already in Tokyo or on their way there, it is critical to look in on their management to ensure that they will be able to compete effectively, and of course, at subsequent Olympic games.
A sustainable sports sector is critical to any country’s economy, in fact, many countries that have established well-defined structures for their sports sector benefit greatly from its ability to provide recurrent streams of resources.
A Study on the Contribution of Sport to Economic Growth and Employment in the EU (2012) indicates, the direct effects of sport, combined with its multiplier (indirect and induced) effects, added up to 2.98% (294.36 bn Euro) of overall gross value added in the EU.
In Kenya, sports has a great impact on the economic value of the country. However, the direct interest and benefits of athletes are often neglected. Therefore, we need to review and restructure the mechanisms to which we manage our athletes.
Scientific advancements have now come into place to provide a wider scope to better develop athleticism. Bangor University (UK), outlines sports science as a multidisciplinary study of key sciences that seeks to design, monitor and evaluate training programmes to help athletes and coaches to reach their maximum potential.
With a focus on nutrition, biomechanics (movements), Physiology (adaptation of the human body) and Psychology (behaviour and mental processes), sports science is the evaluation that we desire to ensure continuity in our performance and proper rehabilitation from sports inflicted injuries. In addition to this, Sports science has the ability to ensure that we protect our athletes from major chronic diseases in the future.
But with inadequate policy development on sports management, we are unlikely to bear the fruits of these advancements. It’s necessary that we look into defining sports regulations with a focus on building athletic endurance and performance as well as advancing their social-economic well being.
Currently, outdated regulations are preventing the adoption of better management systems that are more likely to enhance the sports sector’s contribution to the economy and society. We must seek to advance the sector, with proper and adequate consultations with relevant stakeholders, and now more than ever, including sports scientists to adequately advise on the growth trajectory of our athletes.
The writer is the CEO of Next Gen Sports Academy and has a PHD. in Sports Science & Sports Medicine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dr K. Boit