Ekaru relishing competition for places at Malkia Strikers

Monday May 18 2020

Kenya Pipeline and national team middle blocker Gladys Ekaru polishes her reception skills during an individual training session at the club's training base in Kenya Pipeline Estate, Embakasi on May 11, 2020. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Fast-rising Gladys Ekaru is keen to cement her place in the flooded middle-blocking department of the national women's volleyball team.

Ekaru conceded that competition for places in the department is high but was quick to note she is going the extra mile to be among the best and become a regular.

Triza Atuka, Edith Wisa, Joan Chelagat, Violet Makuto, Caroline Sirengo, Shyrine Jepkemboi and Lorine Chebet are among the centre players currently in the Malkia Strikers set up.

"The pressure is on. All the players in that position are good and therefore for one to make the cut, you need to have something extra," said the 20-year-old Kwanthanze Secondary School alumnus.

"Luckily for me, I had to mature fast. I just cleared school in 2018, joined Kenya Pipeline in 2019 and in my first time of asking I was part of the team that featured in the African Clubs Championship in Egypt where I played alongside my role model Atuka. I'm slowly but surely learning the ropes," said Ekaru.

Kenya Pipeline won bronze medal behind Carthage of Tunisia and record holders Ahly of Egypt. Ekaru was part of the national team that participated in the Intercontinental Olympic qualifiers in Italy last August. Kenya lost all its matches against the hosts, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Ekaru also made it to the team that successfully battled Nigeria, Botswana, Egypt and Cameroon for the sole Tokyo Olympics ticket reserved for Africa during the qualifiers held in Yaounde early this year.

"It's one thing to be part of the team that qualified for the Olympics and totally different thing to be in the team that will participate in the Games. I know it will be tough but I'm doing my individual training sessions to better myself and hopefully the hard work will pay off once we resume training," said Ekaru.

The East Africans who will be returning to Olympics after 16-year hiatus are drawn in Pool 'A' alongside Japan, South Korea, Serbia, Dominican Republic, and Brazil.

The Tokyo Games were scheduled for July 24 to August 9, but have been postponed to July 23 to August 8 next year due to the novel coronavirus.