Kenya is known for producing world-class athletes who dominate among others the long-distance running events globally.
However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of Kenyan athletes switching their nationalities and competing for other countries.
In this article, WoK looks at some of the Kenyan athletes who have changed their nationalities and the benefits they now enjoy in their adopted countries.
Norah Jeruto, the 2016 African Athletics Championships gold medalist, switched her nationality to Kazakhstan.
She was granted citizenship in July 2022 after the World Athletics approved their request to represent the Central Asian country at the international level.
Jeruto switched her allegiance months after winjing the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase during the finals of the Wanda Diamond League 2021 season in Zurich, Switzerland.
During the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, she bagged the first gold for Kazakhstan, and earned Ksh 30 million from the government through their award scheme for excelling athletes.
Stephen Cherono, a native if Keiyo, Elgeyo Marakwet County changed his nationality following a lucrative deal from Qatar in 2003.
He had just won the steeplechase at the 2002 Commonwealth Games for Kenya when the gulf country came calling.
Cherono was offered among other deals, a Ksh 112,300 monthly stipend for life.
The steeplechase champion accepted the deal and even changed his name and even changed his name to Saif Saeed Shaheen.
Vivian Jemutai Elgeyo Marakwet County changes her nationality to Turkey in 2015, a move that saw her adopt a new name, Yasemin Can.
She has represented Turkey in various international competitions including the Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
She kicked off her athletic career immediately after completing high school before getting a chance to change her citizenship.
Jemutai has a diplomatic passport and is accorded VIP treatment any time she is on national assignment.
According to Forbes, Turkey pays up to Ksh 51.6 million for a gold medal.
In 2017, she won a silver medal in the 3000m at the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships, and the gold medal in the women’s 10,000 m event at the 2017 European Athletics U23 Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Evans Kiplagat Barkowet
Evans Barkowet changed his allegiance to Azerbaijan and earned the country’s citizenship in 2016.
He made his marathon debut at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2009.
In 2019, he competed in the men’s marathon at the 2019 World Athletics Championships held in Doha, Qatar although he did not win the race.
Athletes in Azerbaijan earn at least Ksh 386,260 per month while gold medal winners are awarded Ksh 51 million.
Paul Chelimo is an American track and field athlete.
He went to the US in 2011 to run for Shorter College and won the 3000 meters in his debut appearance for the institution.
He later joined the US Army as a water treatment specialist, entering their World Class Athletic Program in 2014.
Chelimo is also the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist in the 5000 meters.
He gained the US citizenship after joining the army.
According to Salary.com, a US Army water treatment specialist’s compensation ranges from Ksh 6.3 million to Ksh 8.2 million.
2017 IAAF world champion Rose Chelimo switched her allegiance to Bahrain in 2015 following her win at the České Budějovice Half Marathon.
She had previously competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics where she finished third and the Adana Half Marathon, San Blas Half in 2015.
In 2014, she also recorded a win at the Alsterlauf, Bredase Singelloop and in Paris, France.
The Bahrain government awards its gold medal winners Ksh 50 million.