Kenyan athletes are mourning the death of former National Olympics Committee (NOC-K) chairman Charles Mukora.
Mukora who served as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member died on Thursday evening was the pioneer athletics coach who boasts to having coached some of Kenya’s greatest athletes among them Kipchoge Keino.
At 83, Mukora stepped down as NOCK chairman in 1999 after he was accused of financial impropriety in awarding Salt Lake City the 2002 Winter Games and 2000 Summer Games to Sydney. He denied any wrong doing in the but agreed to quit as both IOC and NOCK official after he was prevailed upon by the then IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.
And today, senior sports men and women in the country have poured their messages of condolence to the bereaved family.
Led by NOC-K chairman Paul Tergat, the nation turned into mourning as the chairman described Mukora as the man responsible for the firm entrenchment of Kenya into the Olympic movement.
He nurtured the careers of Kenyan legends Naftali Temu and Kipchoge Keino, among many others.
Athletics Kenya chairman Jack Tuwei paid tribute to Mukora, who also served as Laikipia East Member of Parliament, as a “dedicated sports leader.”
Mukora’s prominence in Kenyan sport dates back to 1968 when he took over as national athletics coach from Briton John Velzian who had, in 1965, led the country to the first ever African Championships in Congo Brazzaville.
Mukora took Kenya to the Mexico Olympic Games where Temu panned the first ever Olympic gold medal, winning the 10,000m race with Keino winning gold in the 1,500m.
He competed in the long jump and triple jump before later taking up the decathlon, urged into sport by his British teacher John Cowley.
After a year’s studies at Loughborough College in England, Mukora was appointed sports officer upon his return, but was snapped up by the Coca-Cola Company and employed as a marketing trainee although he still took charge of Kenya as head coach at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
In 1989, Mukora was elected Nock chairman, taking over from Samuel Mbogo and, a year later, he was appointed IOC member, the same year he retired from Coca-Cola.
Mukora was a close ally of then Democratic Party leader, Mwai Kibaki, and was elected as Laikipia East Member of Parliament serving from 1992 to 1997.
Mukora’s wife, Salome Wanjiru Mukora, died on May 21 last year.
The couple had four children – Patrick, Patricia, Beth and Susan.