Ukrainian middle-distance runner Olga Lyakhova was forced to apologize after her Instagram post rubbed up Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) the wrong way.
Lyakhova, a 2019 European Championships 800m bronze medalist, has been doing her training in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County for several weeks now. Iten is the most preferred training location by local and international athletes due to its high altitude.
Lyakhova found herself in trouble with Kenyans on social media over her post in which she described her stay in Kenya. In the tweet, she took a dig at Kenyans saying they “never rush anywhere” and are never punctual.
The tweet, in Russian, stated: “Life in Kenya is moving slow, it’s not metropolis where people don’t have time to raise their head to look at the sky. In Kenya, it’s own charm, it’s own charm. Kenyans never rush anywhere. They even say I’ll come at 2.00 but African means maybe an hour or more late. This really makes me angry. Can’t you do everything on time. But they live like that and that’s their feature.”
She added: “There is the same price for products everywhere in the market, there is no price for products. You can live here, even for little money. Local products are cheap, but the meat is expensive. Life in Kenya is like getting into the past, 20 years. But civilization will come here.”
The 28-year-old athlete’s comments did not go down well with Kenyan online users who took to Twitter to slam her.
@KatWereski said: “She comes to train in ITEN the complains its backward. She can go train in their Metropolis. We love the countryside fresh air and nature.!!”
@Mumbimaingi tweeted: “Western standards /living are not the benchmark of civilization. Kindly educate yourself.”
@Brianmbunde wrote: "I am mad at the fact that she thinks we are not civilized."
Alex Kimani added: "Ukraine is a third world country like Kenya. Even far worse than our nation due to constant wars. She is a narcissist."
The angry reactions forced KyaKhova to apologize, blaming the misunderstanding on Google translation.
“I want to ask Kenyans to forgive me because what I wrote in Russian meant that Kenya has good time for socialising compared to European countries where even small children are busy in their gadgets. I love Kenya and I will always be coming here to train for various competitions,” she said.
“I wrote the message in Russian but Google translated it to mean something different from what I had intended. Iten is a good place to stay and train and why should I even think of badmouthing this place,” added Lyakhova.