Sports Tourism in Kenya
Kenya is a great sporting nation. Sport is a popular part of everyday social life. Kenyan athletes have become world-renowned world, Olympic and Commonwealth champions, and crossing the line in first, second and third place has become a common occurrence.
Sport is now a significant part of the tourism industry in Kenya, with athletes visiting from countries in Europe, Asia, the US and other parts of the world to train or conduct philanthropic activities. And the country has been attracting world sport stars. In 2009, Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world in the 100m and 200m, visited Kenya for charity work as did world tennis star Serena Williams in 2010.
A local tour firm, Victoria Safaris, has plunged into the business and is organizing sports-related excursions for individuals and groups. The company operates from Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisumu airports. It makes arrangements for athletes who want to train in the world-famous -Kipchoge Keino training centre in Eldoret and Nandi Hills, which have produced the best athletes in the world.
Kenya hosts many marathons throughout the year in locations as diverse as the highlands, the beach and the wilderness. The annual Lewa Safari Marathon combines the best of community conservation and sports tourism. The race is organized to support major conservation and community projects in the Lewa and II Ngwesi area. The area — II Ngwesi tourism project and private ranch land — a sanctuary for wildlife and breeding endangered rhinos. But it also provides a safe haven and habitat for species threatened by growing human populations in surrounding areas. The ranch became a conservancy protecting 6 per cent of the country’s population of endangered black rhino, and 20 per cent of the world’s population of rare Grevys zebra.
The marathon is the latest example of community partnership in action – an event that benefits the local people, animals and tourists. The Maralal International camel Derby is an annual event in Maralal town. It began in 1990 as a sporting event to educate pastoral communities about the usefulness of the camel as a key environmental tool in combating environmental degradation. It is Africa’s best known and most prestigious camel race, attracting local and international competitors and spectators, including farming communities, ranchers, national and international media.
The proceeds go to the Samburu Handicap Education and Rehabilitation Programme and helps more than 100 children in the district. But it has no permanent source of financial assistance and relies on NG0s, self-help groups, the Government and individuals. The most renowned athletic event is the annual Standard Chartered Marathon, which attracts athletes from all over the world. Prominent sportsmen and women have also visited the past to conduct sports clinics and visit places like the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, renowned as a breeding ground for world-famous athletes
But sport in Kenya is by no means limited to just athletics. Kenya has embraced all manner of international sports. Visitors to Kenya will be spoilt for choice — football, rugby, cricket polo, water sports and horse racing are held throughout the year
Major international sporting events bring the world to Kenya each year. Nairobi plays host to the annual Safari Sevens, a major rugby tournament featuring top international teams. The Sevens rank as one of the worlds best rugby competitions, and each year event is a major highlight on the Nairobi social calendar.
Equally popular is the Kenya Open Golf Tournament, held annually at the Muthaiga Country Club. It features a repertoire of local and international competition, and promises plenty of exciting action on the greens. More and more travelling golfers are now packing clubs on safari
The Kenyan coast is a paradise for beach sports such as deep-sea fishing and water surfing in the Indian Ocean. The coast has the best hotels and on the beaches, guests can go scuba diving and snorkeling. Lake Victoria is another great place for water surfing and deep-sea fishing in its islands — Mfangano, Takawiri and Rusinga. Tour companies make arrangements with the management of the islands, lodges and hotels to provide competitive rates.
Special games take place at the Moi international Sports Centre, Kasarani. Handicapped people play football, netball, volleyball, swimming, tennis, handball and hockey. Those who excel are picked for the Special Olympics.