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Money matters as Kenyan athletes switch allegiance

Many Kenyan athletes have switched their allegiance to other nations across the world but but what makes them switch nationalities? Former Africa double silver medalist Mike Kigen now renamed Kaan Kigen Ozbilen explained why he switched his allegiance to Turkey in October 2015 where he joined a family of Kenyan runners.

Ozbilen said Turkey offered him special treatment even during his training programme in Kenya in Kaptagat where he does his daily training. 

With his Turkey training mates like Yasmin Can (Vivian Chemutai) , who finished 4th at the Ndalat Gaa cross country over the weekend, Meryem Akda (Miriam Jepchirchir Maiyo), Polat Kemboi Arikan (Paul Kipkosgey Kemboi), Ilham Tanui Ozbilen (William Boit Tanui), Tarik Langat Akda (Patrick Kipkirui Langat) and Ali Kaya (Stanley Kiprotich Mukche) trains in Uasin Gisghu County, Ozbilen opens up to the goodies they get from Turkey.

“I don’t regret competing for Turkey and expect me at the world championships next year. I missed Olympic Games because of an injury but I am sure I will compete at world championships due to my mental preparedness I am doing now,” said the 10,000m and 5,000m former Africa silver medalist.

As they conduct their daily training in the high altitude area of Kaptagat, Ozbilen said that the Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) pays for all their expenditures and their work is to train and not other chores unlike Kenyan runners who use their money in training, food among others.

In my training, the (TAF) fuel all our training cars, buy food for us and hire cooks to prepare the meals unlike Kenyan runners who fully depend on themselves for the any race preparations,” said the Simwoto Hign school student.

The 2008 Great Capital Run champion clarified that even his immediate family members are now Turkish.

Apart from me being a Turkish, my children and my wife enjoys the privileges of being in Turkey. But I have to train in Kenya with great runners like Eliud Kipchoge who has inspired many,” said Ozzbilen in Eldoret.

The runner trains with marathon greats like world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, three time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, reigning Toronto marathon champion Philemon Rono among others.

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