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North Rift clubs gear up for brisk Olympics business

Kenyan athletes running during a training
Kenyan athletes running during a training session in Iten in the Rift Valley. FILE PHOTO | SIMON MAINA |  AFP

Entertainment spots in the athletics-mad North Rift region expect to make fortunes during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games that begin today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Already, clubs, bars and other establishments have ordered enough stock to last them the entire two- week period the Games will run.
North Rift is home to 85 per cent of Kenya’s world-beating stars and thus explains why athletics comes second to religion in the region. Three running counties- Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet- have over the years been competing to identify best with the champions and the global event gives them a chance to outdo one another.

But this year there is more at stake than the counties’ pride and local investors’ returns. Kenya’s performance will be keenly followed after some of its most prolific athletes were banned by the world anti-doping agency. Firstly the performance of the 80 Kenyan representatives in Rio will be crucial in riding the doping wave that almost swept away chances of participating at the Games.

Secondly, after raking the highest number of gold medals at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing- where it emerged the world champions for the first time- the country also hopes to live up to the billing and show the world that it is indeed the athletics power house.

It is such stakes that have seen the North Rift entertainment investors spare no penny in the hope of filling their tills during the course of the Games.
A spot check by the Business Daily established that several changes have been made in joints to accommodate the big number of viewers expected to catch up with the Games starting August 4-21.

In Eldoret-the country’s self-proclaimed City of Champions-owners of clubs are looking to double up their earnings. Several of them said they had doubled up their drink orders.

Nothig to chance

A number of hotels have furnished their business spaces with fancy furniture and installed gigantic screens to ensure their patrons to have to crane their necks to get the best views.

At one club the management is said to have spent about Sh4 million to furnish it. This includes television sets installation and furniture.
Most competitions will be going down at night in Kenya time, a fact that the club owners are betting will motivate patrons to imbibe their favourite drinks as they unwind.

And to ensure the best reception, club managers have left nothig to chance with some subscribing to all-inclusive pay bouquets that come along with all sports channels.

“This year’s Olympics will be having a big significance for our country especially as Kenya hopes to do well after last year’s historic feat in Beijing,” Mr John Gitari a manager at Shakers Club and an athletics die-hard said.

“I want to make our customers as comfortable and as entertained as possible. Security has also been arranged.”

Mr Gitari said he also had a stand-by strong Internet link that will be used to stream the Games live in case the television signail experiences problems especially due to cloud cover which affects most satellite transmission.

Similar arrangements have been made in Kapsabet town in Nandi County.

The Tortoise Hotel, owned by former Olympic 800 metres champion Wilfred Bungei, is the place to be in Kapsabet. Outside tents have been fitted with television sets to increase space for accommodation.

At former World marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang’s Keelu Resort in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, space that is usually used as restaurant has been fitted with screens and more seats.

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