Kenya’s leading telco Safaricom has announced a KSh1 million sponsorship for sprinter Mark Otieno’s campaign during this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games that will take place from July 23.

 The 28-year-old athlete defied the odds by using borrowed shoes to finish second in the Olympic trials held at Kasarani last month. Otieno will now have access to the best quality shoes as part of the sponsorship deal which will also support his training needs and cover his logistics to allow him to attend other competitions.

“I want to thank Safaricom for seeing my potential and believing in me. It has always been my dream to compete in the Olympics and having the biggest company in the country backing me has boosted my own confidence and I am determined to do my best in Tokyo. It has not been easy, due to lack of resources, but it has been worth every effort to get to this stage where I have the honour of representing my country at the biggest sporting event,” said Otieno.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa signs Mark Otienos’s dummy cheque at the Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi, during the unveiling of the sponsorship on July 13, 2021.

 Last week Safaricom unveiled a KSh20 million sponsorship for the team that will represent Kenya at the Olympics. The funds have been set aside for the ceremonial kit that will be used by the Kenyan contingent at the games.

 “We are known for our pedigree of middle and long-distance runners having won the majority of our Olympic medals in these races. However, as a company that believes in going beyond to achieve one’s dreams, we were really inspired by Mark’s story and how he has gone beyond to reach his goal of representing Kenya in the 100m race. We hope that his exploits motivate a new generation of young people who will be inspired to represent Kenya in short distance races”, said Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa with Mark Otieno at the Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi, on July 13, 2021.

 In 2015, Mark clocked a hand-timed 10.11 seconds to finish second in the Kenyan trials for the World Championships in Beijing and the following year he dropped his official best to 10.39 seconds to finish second at the Kenyan Championships.

 His breakthrough came in 2017 when he clocked the Kenyan record of 10.14 seconds to win the national 100m title in Nairobi, which booked him a spot at the 2017 World Championships. In his sole 100m race in 2020, he clocked 10.27 seconds.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa attempts to outsprint Mark Otieno at the Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi, on July 13, 2021.

 The 2020 Summer Olympic Games were postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, Kenya is expected to take over 80 athletes to the Olympics who will compete in athletics, boxing, sevens rugby, taekwondo and volleyball.

 In the Athletics category, Team Kenya will be represented by the likes of world marathon record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei. The rest of the track and field team was officially announced in June and includes Olympic medalists Hellen Obiri (women’s 10000 m), Julius Yego (men’s javelin throw), and the reigning middle-distance champion Faith Kipyegon. Also, among the Olympians will be Ferdinand Omanyala who also qualified in the 100m with 10.02 seconds, a new national record.