Monthly Archives: August 2008

Of Marathon Golds, Closing Ceremonies and Kenya’s best Olympic performance ever

Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco and Samuel Kamau Wanjiru of Kenya compete in the mens marathon during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games [Reuters]

Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, Jaouad Gharib of Morocco and Samuel Kamau Wanjiru of Kenya compete in the men's marathon during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 24, 2008 - Reuters

In a conversation with a @jollyrulez yesterday, he just made me realize that the only Olympic medals given out during the closing ceremony were all claimed by African Marathon runners – ensuring that all 3 National Anthems were sang to a crowd of 91,000 and televised to millions more globally. This was Kenya’s best Olympics to date. What could make you more proud? Smiles all around.

Billions worldwide watched and applauded on Sunday as International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge presented Kenya’s Samuel Kamau Wanjiru with a gold medal for winning the men’s marathon race that brought the curtain down on a highly successful Beijing Olympic Games, both for the Chinese hosts and for Kenya.

The Kenyan flag was raised at the brand new 91,000-seater Beijing National Olympic Stadium and the Kenyan national anthem played after Belgian Rogge, accompanied by International Association of Athletics Federations’ president, Lamine Diack of Senegal, also presented bouquets of flowers to the 21-year-old Wanjiru, Morocco’s silver medallist Jaouad Gharib and Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede who won the bronze in the 42-kilometre race.

Wanjiru’s winning time of two hours, six minutes and 32 seconds was an Olympic record and also marked the fifth Kenyan gold medal at the Beijing Games that were the country’s most successful ever.

The win was also Kenya’s first in the marathon at the four-yearly Olympics.

Kenya finished the competition as the top African nation and an impressive 15th overall with 14 medals – five gold, five silver and four bronze.The performance surpassed the previous best of nine medals

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winning

“My one aim was just to be a champion. That is what I came here to do”

– Jamaican 100m champion, Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt breaks away from the pack leaving them a considerable distance behind, to win gold in the men’s 100m final and break the World Record in style.

More here

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Kenyan swimmer Jason Dunford and his 7 minutes of glory

A Kenyan swimmer overshadows American swimming sensation Michael Phelps for 7 glorious minutes.

For seven memorable minutes, the world stood up and watched as brilliant Kenyan swimmer Jason Dunford held the Olympic 100 metres butterfly record that he shattered on the way to making it to Friday’s semi-finals of his speciality at Beijing’s National Acquatic Centre.

Stunned swimming analysts froze in awe inside the 18,000-seater “Water Cube”, one of Beijing’s architectural masterpieces, as the 21-year-old student of human physiology at Stanford University swam 51.14 seconds to break American Michael Phelps’ old mark of 51.25 that he set at the Athens Games four years ago.

Jason was swimming in Heat Seven which he won by 0.23 seconds ahead of second-placed Australian Andrew Lauterstein.

Source: nation.co.ke

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Dial 1298 for a World-Class Ambulance Service in Mumbai

How do you provide a city like Mumbai and its 22 million residents an efficient Ambulance service? The Acumen Fund’s Sasha Dicheter, talks about their latest investment, “Dial 1298” service with its 51 ambulances, each fitted with intensive care service combining world-class operational skills with a social mission.

Patients who want to go to a private hospital in a full-service ambulance – staffed with a doctor – pay 1,500 rupees (about US$35). Those who go to public hospitals pay either half price or nothing. 1298’s leadership is committed to having 15-20% of the company’s calls be serviced free or at reduced cost. This simple logic takes away the cumbersome process of identifying who can afford to pay and who cannot.

As such, anyone in Mumbai who needs ambulance service can dial 1298 and, thanks to the magic of GPS and Google Maps, one of 51 world-class ambulances arrives in about 15 minutes to provide care and transport. The service is world-class, modeled on London Ambulance Service

Source: blog.acumenfund.org

The British Medical Journal estimates that for every 5 minutes saved in ambulance response time, the survival rate doubles for cardiac arrests. Consider that before 1298, Mumbai had just 12 ambulances – with 9 out of 10 trips made to transport the dead.

Currently the model is being replicated in 2 other Indian cities – It’s time someone took the initiative and replicated the model in Lagos, Accra or Capetown that have a huge population density and a mix of private and public health care.

Update: The Acumen fund did a wonderful follow up story on Meridain Medical.  Nairobi-based Meridian Medical Centre has been profitably operating three outpatient clinics with one-third of its clients earning only $4 a day. They will open 5 more clinics over the next 3 years in higher density, lower income areas. Meridian is part of a larger trend of companies recognizing the market potential of the BoP.

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Sailing around Africa in a Phoenician boat

On Arwad Island off the coast of Syria, a group of 20 sailors-to-be are preparing for a voyage their captain believes has not been undertaken for two and a half millennia.

They plan to set off on Sunday on a journey that attempts to replicate what the Greek historian Herodotus mentions as the first circumnavigation of Africa in about 600BC.

Their vessel, the small, pine-wood Phoenicia, is modelled on the type of ship the Phoenician sailors he credited with the landmark voyage would have used. Phoenicia route map

The Phoenicians lived in areas of modern-day Lebanon, Syria and other parts of the Mediterranean from about 1200BC and are widely credited with being both strong seafarers and the first civilisation to make extensive use of an alphabet.

Mammoth project

Celebrating Damascus as a capital of Arab Culture for the year 2008, event organisers sponsored the British-run expedition project to mark their festivities.

The year-long voyage will take the crew into some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

As well as sailing round the southern most tip of Africa, they are preparing to deal with pirates and long periods of waiting for favourable winds.

The skilful shipbuilders in Arwad are familiar with construction techniques dating back 200-300 years, but shipbuilder Orwa Bader, 28, says this is the first time they have ever tried to build in the Phoenician style.

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introducing Africa.Alltop.com

Introducing the latest addition to Guy Kawasaki‘s news aggregation service Africa.Alltop.com . Alltop is a popular news and blog aggregator for various topics around the web.

With the addition of Africa.Alltop Guy has given African technophiles a well deserved show of support and highlighted a continent in much need of some positive PR – see Afromusings article on the Meme’s. Markets and Africa.

I have had the good fortune of working closely with a number of bloggers featured on Alltop’s Africa page and can confidently say that these men and women are positively changing the perception of Africa. They belong to an ever growing breed of confident Africans that believe strongly in the need for dialogue, self-reliance and positive change.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki, Ellen Leanse, Erik Hersman (see Erik’s blog for the back story on Africa.Alltop) and all those people working behind the scenes to bring this vision to fruition.

Be sure to join the conversation on Africa and watch Alltop.Africa.

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Once a lost boy of Sudan, Lopez Lomong leads the US at the Beijing Olympics

What a class act – the United States announced today that Lopez Lomong, a former child prisoner from war-torn Sudan, will lead the their team into the National Stadium in Beijing for the start of the 2008 Olympics.

Lomong is now an American citizen and was chosen to be the flag bearer after a vote by his fellow team members. His journey is inspiring to say the least. Born in Southern Sudan; kidnapped and separated from his parents at age 6 during a civil war; Lopez escaped and made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, where he spent more than a decade before coming to the United States in 2001 and qualifying to represent his adopted country in the Olympics for the 1,500-meter race.

China has long been criticized for not intervening in Africa especially in Sudan’s Darfur region where they have business interests. China has a long standing policy of “non-interference”, but is quickly learning that as it grows in strength, it has a moral responsibility to influence positive change globally.

Hopefully Lomong’s long journey will act as an inspiration to millions of Chinese citizens and help them recognize that the hopes and aspirations of Darfuri’s are no different that their very own – bringing us closer to the “One World, One Dream” ideal of the Olympics.

Here is to a wonderful Beijing Olympics. Good luck to the host nation and to all the inspirational athletes partipating in China.

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