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Marathon maestro Kipchoge epitomises Kenya’s swagger

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Ambition is what drives people to achieve the seemingly impossible.

In October, the world’s greatest marathon runner and pride of Kenya, Eliud Kipchoge, will once again attempt to break the psychologically significant barrier of running a marathon under two hours.

Kipchoge already holds the record for the fastest ever recorded marathon time of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds, created in the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

In achieving this time, Kipchoge shaved one minute and 18 seconds off the previous record, the greatest improvement in a marathon world record time since 1967.

Meaning it will take a superhuman effort to break not only his own record significantly, but once again score the greatest improvement in a marathon for the second time in just over a year, against a record that has stood for over five decades.

Kipchoge’s ambition will push him to greater and greater efforts to achieve what was formerly seen as impossible.

In Kenya, we are also in unchartered territory.

Who amongst us would have believed only a few years ago that a high-ranking governor would not only be arrested and charged with corruption, but barred from accessing their office during the investigations?

The second part is almost as important as the first, because it ensures that the defendant cannot interfere negatively in the investigation.

This has happened not once but twice recently, with Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal.

Then, there is the recent arrest of then-National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, who has since been replaced.

These are just a few examples of the ‘big fish’ that have been arrested, charged and kept out of office. The battle against corruption is no longer a dream, it is very much a reality.

Tens of billions of shillings of taxpayer’s earnings have been embezzled, but we are now, perhaps for the first time in our nation’s history, seeing the seemingly impossible take place before our very eyes.

In an appearance before the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji recently stated that since 2014, a total of 582 corruption and economic crime cases have been registered.

Most importantly, whereas in 2014 there was a conviction rate of 2.1 per cent, it is now 17.6 per cent as of 2019.

That means there is a startling rise in conviction rates of eight times over the last five years.

The fact that previously only around one in 50 corruption cases would lead to conviction is extremely telling.

It means there was a weak investigative process, probably hampered by the defendant’s free and unfettered access to their offices and potential witnesses.

The courts were far weaker and the motivation to truly battle corruption and theft practically non-existent.

Kenya is no longer seen as a place where theft at the highest level is conducted with immunity and impunity.

Such a thing, like Kipchoge’s marathon under two hours, seemed unnervingly elusive and highly improbable.

However, the impossible became the improbable, which became the achievable.

This is a result of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambition for the Republic of Kenya. From his first moment in office, he spoke up against corruption.

When Kipchoge travels to Vienna for the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in October, he could do a lot worse than take inspiration from his President, who has never been afraid to look a seemingly impossible challenge in the eye and achieve it.

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