alexa Ajulu-Bushell causes waves in South Africa pool - Daily Nation

Ajulu-Bushell causes waves in South Africa pool

Thursday December 4 2008

Kenya’s Achieng Ajulu Bushel in action for

Kenya’s Achieng Ajulu Bushel in action for Plymouth College in the 100 metres individual medley during the NASA Age Group championships at Aga Khan High School. Ajulu-Bushell is representing Kenya at the Africa Championships in Johannesburg. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN 

By SAMMY KITULA

Swimming starlet, Achieng Ajulu-Bushell, continues to scale the heights after she won her first ever gold medal at the Africa Senior Swimming Championship being held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Swimming in the 50 metres breaststroke, the talented Achieng swam in 32.64 to set a new meet record.

She now has two medals in the continental games after she won bronze in 100m freestyle, a first fete for a Kenyan woman.

Improvement

“I’m so exited by winning this medal. I expected to do well even though I wasn’t fully prepared for these games. But I know that there’s still room for improvement,” said Ajulu during a phone interview on Thursday.

Achieng made her debut in these championships at 13 and left a mark in Dakar, Senegal in 2006, as the youngest swimmer to ever take part at the gala.

Kenya Swimming Federation public officer, Winnie Kamau, who accompanied the eight-member team, said: “Achieng’s performance was beyond expectation considering that she competed against much older swimmers.

The girl has a very bright future in this sport and she stands out as a role model to the other budding swimmers,” said Kamau.

She missed last year’s All African Games due to illness and had her Olympics dream shattered after she failed to make qualifying times in Junior Championships in Mexico a few months to the Olympics. But she took all these in her stride.

At the same time, US-based swim torpedo, Jason Dunford, left the ongoing championship with much pride after he bagged his third gold of the championship.

The Kenyan studying in the US showed further signs of confidence, speed and rhythm as he splashed the waters for a top finish in 50m butterfly category in a time of 23.50. Moments later, he was at it again, this time to win a silver in 100m freestyle.

“I’m delighted with my performance at these games. Were it my wish, I would have continued until Friday. Nonetheless, I wish the rest of the swimmers to continue with the trend,” said Jason.

African record

Not only did the 21-year-old student of human physiology at Stanford University swim 52.49 to win the men’s 100m butterfly, but he also set a African record.

Although he was 1:35 short of his Olympic time, he was ecstatic of the results.

“How better can it get? This has been one of my bets strokes and I’m happy that I won the race again,” said the swimmer on phone from South Africa.

Dunford had earlier on retained the 50m backstroke title that he won in Senegal when he powered his way to gold position in 26.73 seconds. He now has five medals, three gold and two silver.

Equally explosive in the championship was Pina Ercolano, who despite finishing fifth in the women’s 200m freestyle, set a new national record of 2:21.70.

A little later, the swimming sensation set yet another national record with an eighth place finish in the 50m butterfly category after she clocked 30.96.

“It was a very hectic programme and the challenge was very stiff. I’m contended with the national records though,” said Ercolano.

In other results, Sylvia Brunlehner, finished fifth in 100m backstroke with a time of 1:14.30. Akshay Shah was seventh in the 200m backstroke category (2:21.19).

“In general all our swimmers did well at the championship because most of them set at least one new national record or personal best,” the official added.

Akshay Shah, Rama Vyombo and Mahmood Food are the other men’s representatives, while Sylvia Brunleihner, Pina Ercolano, Rachita Shah and Achieng Ajulu are the women swimmers at the event that ends on Saturday.

The Kenyan team arrives on Monday evening.

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