Nairobi, April 27 (IANS) Kenya's iconic long distance runner Paul Tergat is expected to assume the leadership of the country's Olympic body after the incumbent and his only rival failed to present his nomination papers at the deadline.
With the elections set for May 5, Tergat has been declared the only candidate eyeing the chairman's position for the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock), an affiliate of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), reports Xinhua news agency.
Tergat will replace another legendary long distance athlete and former Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino.
"This was unexpected. I feel lost for the great fortune that has come my way. I am truly lost for words to express my feelings," Tergat said on Wednesday here.
"But it will be a great challenge to steer these great country of top athletes and sportsmen to greater heights. A challenge that I knew its magnitude when I presented my candidature for the position," he added.
However, Tergat was full of praise for the man he will replace, saying he has always acted above board, truthful and committed to helping the country's youth to do well in international competitions.
"Kipchoge has always been a statesman, a legend but more importantly he is a leader. He has done his part and now the baton will change. I will anchor the team, but it is now up to the younger leadership to take Nock to the next level," he said.
"I'd like to appreciate each federation and their heads; the people I will be working with indiscriminately. We are known worldwide as a sporting nation and it is my will to uphold and enhance this status," he added.
Keino did not present his papers and was not present when the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, which will oversee the polls on May 5, made the announcement in Nairobi.
Also unopposed are athletes representatives Hellen Obiri and Kenya Sevens legend Humphrey Kayange, who will be taking the previous post, which were occupied by world marathon champion Catherine Ndereba and Tergat.
Tergat had secured the support of key federations including Athletics Kenya, Football Kenya Federation and Kenya Rugby Union.
Change in Nock will be appreciated by IOC, who have championed for new course in the wake up of poor organization at the last Olympics in Rio by Kenya and the increase in doping cases among local athletes.
IOC sent their observers in Nairobi twice but they failed to convince the outgoing office to reform and emend its constitution to have fair play during election.
This prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to freeze funding to Kenya earlier this month.