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Financial anxiety over Kenya representation at African Games

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Anxiety has gripped Kenya’s athletes ahead of the first batch of departures to Rabat, Morocco for the African Games.

Fears of being dropped from the team owing to financial constraints have left some players uncertain of their participation, even as the country’s volleyball players depart for Morocco on Tuesday. The African Games will be held from August 19 to 31.

Kenya will send a contingent of 290 athletes across 22 disciplines, and Team Kenya CEO Charles Nyaberi revealed that the government is fully sponsoring the teams.

"There are challenges over finance because the government has not fully released the money.

"But everything else has gone according to plan, as teams have been in camp for the past two weeks.

"This has been possible through the National Sports Fund," said Nyaberi on Monday in Nairobi.

Athletics, which is Kenya’s dominant sport, had been allocated 104 slots, but these have been whittled down to just 75.

However, general team manager Paul Mutwii said it will be hard to decide who will be dropped from the team’s training camp.

"There are 96 athletes in camp, and telling us to cut it down to their desired number, even if we have not surpassed the quota, is unacceptable," said Mutwii.

Now Mutwii has cautioned that he may be forced to pull the team out of the games if their quota is not met.

"If we are pushed to drop more athletes, then there is no need to travel.

"We may be forced to withdraw the team from the African Games altogether," added Mutwii.

However, volleyball team’s coach Paul Bitok is upbeat his side will retain the African Games title.

The team, which departs on Tuesday, will play one build-up match with hosts Morocco on Saturday before games begin on August 19.

"I have trained the team for the last week and the morale in the squad is very high.

"We will do anything to defend our title in Morocco," said Bitok.


Kenya team aims to dominate African Games as team departs for Morocco

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan delegation for the African Games will depart in batches depending on their competition schedule to avoid burning out.

Team Kenya chief executive officer Charles Nyaberi said that the teams have all received their training and competition kit and will work hard to ruffle the pecking order at the African Games, which saw Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Algeria dominate the last games in Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo in 2015.

The badminton, judo, shooting, table tennis and beach volleyball teams were the first batch of the Kenyan contingent to depart on Tuesday, buoyant about their chances to widen the medal scope for a country that has solely relied on athletics for a majority of its medal haul.

In 2015 track and field yielded Kenya’s five of the six gold medals with women’s volleyball providing the other one.

"Kenya eyes to dominate the table tennis and be a big country like China. We have to start by winning at the African Games against Nigeria and Egypt," said Kenya Table Tennis Association president Andrew Mudibo on Tuesday in Nairobi.

Kenya has entered a huge contingent of 290 athletes in at least 21 disciplines. Wrestling, swimming, Taekwondo, weightlifting, archery, lawn tennis, kayak and karate will leave on Saturday while athletics team will be the last to depart on Aug. 23.

Triathlon head coach Harrison Mwangi said Africa Zone Five champion Hanifa Said, 24, and Abdalla Mansour Abdallah will anchor the team and hope they will influence younger players to deliver good performances.

However, he warned that rivals from South Africa and Egypt have superior players.

"South Africa and Egypt have made it their turf and we must find a way to exploit their chinks. Kenya can deliver at the continental stage and win medals," said Mwangi.

However, for volleyball coach Paul Bitok, guiding the team to retain the title in Rabat, Morocco will be an added bonus.

Bitok won bronze with the Kenyan team at the Johannesburg 1999 African Games as a player and now eyes a medal at the same event as coach almost two decades down the line.

"I was away in Rwanda and have secured success there.

"But now I am with the Kenya team and we will have to work hard to deny Cameroon, Nigeria and host Morocco the gold," said Bitok.

"I have just been with the girls for one week and I can tell you things won’t be easy in Rabat," Bitok warned.

"The players are in tip-top shape but what I have been working on is their reception which was their undoing in Cairo."

Bitok has replaced outgoing Italian tactician Shailen Ramdoo.

Kenyan women volleyball team hopes to use the African Games as a preparatory tournament ahead of the World Cup in Japan due September before the Africa qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due January 2020.


Kenya assures drug cheats won’t make African Games team

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has stated that it will only send clean athletes to the 2019 African Games in Morocco from August 19 to 31.

At least 60 of the country’s elite runners have been suspended for using banned performance enhancement supplements.

Team manager Dimmy Kisalu said random screenings have been carried out to prevent any doping allegations, adding that they are satisfied the team will be clean.

"Let the management of the African Games be assured we are only entering clean athletes.

"The screening of athletes started a week ago when the team reported to camp and is expected to be completed before the team jets out on August 23," said Kisalu on Monday in Nairobi.

At the last African Games in Brazzaville in 2015, Kenya entered 364 athletes in 18 sports.

This year, the country is sending 290 athletes across 22 disciplines.

The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) will conduct three tests in camp to root out any athletes testing positive.

Kenya is currently listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) under category ‘A’, meaning athletes are likely to dope.

However, Kisalu said Kenya is keen to enter a drug-free team to the African Games.

"Kenya has given its commitment to sending a clean team in each and every category to the games.

"We are currently in Category ‘A’ and the rules dictate that we subject athletes to three out-of-competition tests, which will be done before the team leaves on August 23.

"It began last week as the ADAK conducted random tests and shall continue until we ensure we have a drug-free squad," he said.


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