Politics would come in the way of Kenya’s continued participation in the games, as they missed out on the 1976 games, boycotting with several other African countries in protest against the failure by the International Olympic Committee to suspend New Zealand from the games after it’s rugby team, the All Blacks, visited South Africa, which was then governed under the apartheid (segregation) system of government.
MOSCOW, USSR 1980
This would be followed by another boycott in 1980, this time against the USSR’s decision to invade Afghanistan in 1979.
Emerging talent such as Mike Boit a bronze medalist in Munich and Henry Rono would be unlucky to miss out on both games, especially when you realize that they were in the prime of their careers at this point in time.
LOS ANGELES, USA 1984
Kenya had been away from the Olympics for twelve years, missing out as a result of politically instigated boycotts. Returning to the Los Angeles games in 1984, the country set out on a mission to continue from where they left off in 1972.
Kenya sent a squad of 61 athletes (56 men and 5 women) competing in five sporting disciplines namely athletics, boxing, hockey, shooting and weightlifting.
Julius Korir reclaimed the 3000m/steeplechase title for Kenya , following in the steps of Amos Biwott (Mexico 1968) and Kip Keino (Munich 1972) before him. Bronze medals from boxer Ibrahim Bilali and athlete Mike Musyoka in the 10000m saw Kenya maintain their medal winning trend that started in 1964 with Wilson Kiprugut’s solitary bronze over 800m in Tokyo.
Sprinter Ruth Waithera broke ground for Kenyan women athletes, reaching the final of the 400m in Los Angeles, her time of 51.56 seconds a Kenyan record over the distance at the time. She also the national record over 200m at the same games, clocking 23.37 seconds.
The men’s national hockey team finished ninth of twelve teams at the hockey competition in Los Angeles.
Kenya squad to Los Angeles
ATHLETICS: Men: Alfred Nyambane (200m), David Kitur, John Anzrah, James Atuti (400m/ 4 x 400m relay), Elijah Sogomo, Jason Opicho (4 x 400m relay), Billy Konchellah, Edwin Koech, Juma Ndiwa (800m), Joseph Chesire, Josephat Muraya, Kipkoech Cheruiyot (1500m), Paul Kipkoech, Charles Cheruiyot, Wilson Waigwa (5000m), Mike Musyoki, Sosthenes Bitok (10000m), Joseph Nzau (10000m/Marathon), Joseph Otieno, Kimurgor Ng’eny (Marathon), Simon Kitur (400m hurdles/ 4 x 400m relay), Meshack Munyoro (400m hurdles), Julius Korir, Julius Kariuki, Kip Rono (3000m steeplechase), Pius Munyasia (20km walk), Moses Kiayi (Long Jump/Triple Jump)
Women: Ruth Waithera (200m/400m), Selina Chirchir (800m), Justina Chepchirchir (1500m), Hellen Kimaiyo (3000m), Mary Wagaki (Marathon)
BOXING: Daniel Mwangi (Light flyweight), Ibrahim Bilali (Flyweight), Sammy Mwangi (Bantamweight), John Wanjau (Featherweight), Patrick Waweru (Lightweight), Charles Owiso (Light welterweight), Stephen Okumu (Light middleweight), Augustus Oga (Middleweight), Sylvanus Okello (Light Heavyweight), James Omondi (Heavyweight)
HOCKEY: Emmanuel Oduol, Julius Akumu, Lucas Alubaha, Michael Omondi, Parminder Singh Saini, Manjeet Singh Panesar, Jitender Singh Panesar, Peter Akatsa, Harvinder Singh Kaur, Christopher Otambo, Brajinder Singh Daved, Raphael Fernandes, Sunil Chhabra, Sarabjit Singh Sehmi, Eric Otieno, Julius Mutinda
SHOOTING: Shuaib Adam, Michael Carr-Hartley
WEIGHTLIFTING: Pius Ochieng