Junior golfers, gear up for the Rio Olympics
Posted Thursday, August 2 2012 at 20:07
Since last Friday, one event has captivated the world — the Olympic Games in London, which brings together 10,960 athletes at the games, many of them Chinese, 205 Olympic nations in competition, 70,000 volunteers, 4,700 medals up for grabs in 26 sports and 39 disciplines.
And here is a figure that should interest Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) — Britain expects more than 30 million overseas visitors in 2012 spending in excess of £17.6 billion.
According to Visit-Britain, the national tourism agency, London will receive up to one million visitors during the Olympic Games and more Londoners are expected to stay home over the Summer season, adding to the strain on all services during the event.
Team Great Britain, the hosts, has 541 Olympians, China 380, the US 530 and Kenya has sent 47 men and women athletes with the exception of Mercy Obiero in weightlifting, the Dunford brothers in swimming and Elizabeth Andiego and Benson Njangiru in boxing.
Even South Sudan, which does not as yet have a national Olympic committee, is represented by a lone athlete who will compete under the Olympic flag.
Golf, the largest individual sport in the world, is not one of the sports in London, hence no Tiger Woods or Luke Donald or Michelle Wie.
This will, however, change in Rio 2016 following the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to include golf and rugby in the Summer Games.
In supporting the bid to have golf and rugby included in the event, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the two sports would be great additions.
“Golf and rugby have global appeal, a geographically diverse line-up of top iconic athletes and an ethic that stresses fair play,” he says.
Golf was played at the 1900 Paris Olympics and 1904 St Louis Games. Mr Peter Dawson, the CEO of the R&A Club, said the inclusion of golf in the Olympics was a historic moment for the game. But would the golfing fraternity send amateur or professional golfers to the event?
According to the IOC and the International Golf Federation (IGF), golf at Rio 2016 will be played as a 72-hole stroke-play competition for men and women, with 60 players in each field. The world’s top 15 players would qualify automatically.
According to Nick Faldo and Tom Watson, former Major winners, golf at the Olympics should be restricted to amateur players only.
And the Kenya Golf Union seems to agree. In a statement attributed to the immediate past chairman Mwaniki Gachoka, “KGU is focusing on presenting a golf team that will represent Kenya at the Olympics come 2016”.
Whilst nothing has been heard from the Professional Golfers of Kenya, who should have more interest in Rio 2016 vis-a-vis their amateur counterparts, qualifying for the Olympics may be too much to ask of our Pros.
Like with any other Olympic sport, qualification will not be automatic and certain qualification marks will have to be attained to gain a slot in Brazil.