The National Paralympic Committee of Kenya has lamented the slashing of Kenya’s Paralympics team for the sixth International Athletics Meeting in Tunisia.
The team to the March 22-29 continental championships in Tunis has been whittled down to 17 athletes and a guide, from the 65 who had, interestingly, attained qualifying times.
KNPC was allocated Sh7.5 million for a team of 18 athletes and four officials and its chairman, Jairu Mugalo, on Wednesday lamented that Kenya is limiting its medal prospects when Paralympics has come of age.
Mugalo said several criteria, including world ranking, were considered in downsizing the team, which enters residential training at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on Thursday.
They departed on Tuesday for the championship which will be used as a London Paralympic Games qualifier.
Tunis provides an opportunity for athletes who failed to qualify from World events and the 2010 All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, where Kenya qualified 16 athletes.
Henry Kiprono Kirwa and Abraham Cheruiyot Tarbei, who won three and two gold medals, respectively, in Beijing, have already qualified.
Interestingly, from the initial pool of 65 athletes, 45 not only attained the event’s qualifying marks but also the Paralympics standard times.
“We are talking about axing over 30 athletes capable of giving Kenya at least silver at the Olympics. It is really demoralising,” said Mugalo.
Saying Kenyans’ performance has over the years improved greatly in the Paralympics and All Africa Games, he called on the government and the corporate world to come to their aid.
Matched able-bodied athletes
The Paralympians won three gold medals in Athens 2004 while the Olympic team won just one. They equalled their able-bodied compatriots with five gold at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algeria and claimed four victories against five in Maputo.
“We were tying on five gold medals from Beijing before Asbel Kiprop was awarded victory,” Mugalo added.
Kenya’s Paralympics team
Tegla Mosop T12 1,500 metres 5:00.04; Emma Cheptanui T12 1,500m 5:02.07; Margaret Njeri F58 shot put 5.58m; January Juma F20 shotout 8.48m; Celestine Sangura F20 shot put 8.10m; Cecilia Wangechi F58 javelin 21.78m; Elizabeth Atieno F57 javelin 16.45m, discus 19.46m; Bethsheba Chebole F54 javelin 9.90m; Nelly Sile F55 javelin 13.42m; Geoffery Maiyo T13 800m 1:55.03; Emmanuel Asinikal T12 800m 2:00.00; Wilson Bii T12 5,000m 16:04.01, Guide: Jacob Tanui; David Bor T12 5000m 14:56.04; Andrew Kemboi T12 5,000m 15:07.04; Moses Kimutai T12 1,500m 3:56.00; Eliud Kipyego T12 1,500m 3:56.00; Jonah Chesum T46 800m 1:56.01; Officials: Rose Waruhiu (team manager); Caroline Mabel (Chaperone/classifier); Albert Korir (track coach); Paul Kaleli (field coach)