A Hard Time For Kenyan Runners

 

Kenya's Rift Valley is not a normal place. This high-lying valley with its clean air is the home of Kenya's best runners.

The athletes you can find here are among the best in the world. Nike, Adidas, Puma and other shoe manufacturers have come to Kenya to look for and sponsor African runners. Most of them earn enough money to make a living in a place where most of the population has only a dollar a day.

Athletics is the main industry here. It has changed people's lives. Successful runners can build their own houses, buy land and pass some of their wealth on to the whole neighborhood.

Although only a few world class runners make millions of dollars a year most of those who run earn much less. The economic recession of the past year has hit the running industry very hard. Marathon events get less money from sponsors and big cities cannot always afford to pay for the best Kenyan runners. Athletes are disappointed. It takes them months to prepare for a race and then they are told that they can't come because the organizers don't have the money.

Some athletes now have to get themselves a second job in order to earn at least some money. They are setting up small shops where they sell shoes and other sportswear, sometimes they buy farming land.



In the Rift Valley you come across athletics everywhere you go. Schools, clinics and hotels are often built with the money the athletes bring home. Asbel Kiprop, Kenyan silver medal winner at the Beijing Olympics claims that African runners have to keep up their international reputation; otherwise a deeper crisis could hit the whole region.

 

Asbel Kiprop

African runner Asbel Kiprop -  Asbel_Kiprop_Hengelo_2009.JPG: Erik van Leeuwen

 

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Words

  • afford = to have the money to buy
  • although = while
  • athletics = sports like running and jumping
  • claim = say
  • disappointed = sad
  • high-lying = to lie higher than normal
  • make a living = to live
  • manufacturer = producer
  • otherwise = or else
  • recession = a difficult time when people do not have a lot of money to buy things and many people are out of work
  • reputation = good name that someone has
  • sportswear = clothes that you wear when you do sports
  • wealth = the money they have