IN GOLD COAST
Kenya’s losing streak continued at various Commonwealth Games venues here Wednesday morning with defeats in lawn bowls, shooting, table tennis, squash and badminton.
Kenyan journalists covering these games have journeyed hundreds of miles over the last week or so looking for the uplifting story that has been hard to come by despite “Team Kenya” touting these as possibly the “best ever” games for Kenya ahead of their travel Down Under.
Despite impeccable travel and accommodation arrangements by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) and the government, Kenya’s sports teams here have hardly returned the favour, and losing seems to be in vogue here.
Some 18 years ago in Sydney, 863 kilometres away from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games venue, Paul Tergat put up the most memorable show ever in the 10,000 metres, losing by the thickness of a vest to Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie at the Sydney Olympic Games.
It was the closest ever race over the distance and that iconic finish has been replayed a million times over.
Well, that fighting spirit is evidently lacking in the Kenyan team here.
Tergat, now President of the Kenyan Olympic committee, is a disappointed man here, with the head of Kenya’s delegation Barnabas Korir, also a former distance runner, equally deflated.
Already, Kenya has lost gold medals in events they won at the last games in Glasgow, namely the men’s 5,000 metres, women’s 1,500m and women’s 10,000m.
Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, Faith Chepgng’etich and Joyce Chepkirui won these events at the 2014 games and will be ruing their absence here as their successors have flattered only to deceive.
On Wednesday, Cephas Kimwaki lost 21-14 to England’s Robert Paxton in the fifth round of the men’s singles lawn bowls competition at the Broadbeach Bowls Club.
In mitigation, the Kenyan player said he had gained a lot of experience.
“I have got an experience from playing with Paxton. He’s playing very, very, very well. Next time I will beat him,” said Kimwaki who is based at the Limuru Country Club.
“I’m so happy to be here. I’m enjoying the Australian weather, and everything is OK.”
Well, all was not OK at the shooting competition either, although Christopher Saina put up a spirited performance in the “Queen’s Parade” individual finals at the Belmont Full Bore Range.
Just like he did at the Glasgow games, Saina, national champion in 2011, 2012 and 2014, wound up 24th in the competition which is a test of patience and skills requiring competitors to fire at targets across a range of distances from 300 to 1,000 metres.
His scores over the 300, 500 and 600 yards were 35-6v, 31-3v and 35-2v, respectively.
“I don’t feel good today because 500 yards wasn’t good for me. I will definitely have to improve,” he said.
Things weren’t any better in table tennis at the Oxenford Studios where the Kenyan pair of Brian Mutua and Sejal Thakkar lost 3-2 to Sri Lanka’s Jayasingha Mudisawithana/ Erandi Warusawithana with the scores being 12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-9.
In squash’s mixed doubles, also at the Oxenford Studios, the Kenyan pair of Hardeep Reel and Khaaliqa Nimji were floored by Marlene West/ Cameroon Stafford of the tiny Cayman Islands 2-0 (11-5, 11-8) with game one lasting just five minutes!
The losing streak spilled over into badminton’s round of 32 where Victor Odera, who is making his Commonwealth Games debut, battled but was drowned 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) to Jamaica’s Dennis Coke at the Carrara Sport Arena.
Kenya will hope to for some redemption in Wednesday’s evening session when the women’s steeplechase – an almost sure bet for a clean Kenyan sweep – and women’s 400m finals come up at the Carrara Stadium.
The lone Kenyan boxer in the campaign is Christine Ongare who will come up against Sri Lanka’s Dulani Jayasinghe at the Oxenford Studios from 12.02pm (Kenyan time) in the women’s flyweight quarter-finals.
There could be a surprise medal also in the women’s 400m where Kenya’s Maximila Imali impressed by winning her semi-final race to make it into tonight’s final.
The times (Kenyan) for Wednesday evening’s Kenyan events are:
12.02pm: Women’s flyweight (51kg) quarter-final: Christine Ongare v Dulani Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka)
12.45pm: Women’s 3,000m steeplechase final: Fancy Cherono, Purity Cherotich, Celliphine Chespol
1.26pm: Women’s 200m semi-finals: Millicent Ndoro
1.58pm: Men’s 200m semi-final: Mark Otieno
Wednesday morning results:
Men’s fifth round singles: Cephas Kimwaki lost 21-14 to England’s Robert Paxton;
Queen’s Prize individual finals: Christopher Saina 24th (35-6v, 31-3v and 35-2v);
Mixed doubles round of 64: Brian Mutua/ Sejal Thakkar lost 3-2 to Sri Lanka’s Jayasingha Mudisawithana/ Erandi Warusawithana (12-10, 9-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-9);
Mixed doubles, Pool C: Hardeep Reel/ Khaaliqa Nimji beaten by Marlene West/ Cameroon Stafford of Cayman Islands 2-0 (11-5, 11-8).
Men’s singles, round of 32: Victor Odera lost to Jamaica’s Dennis Coke 2-0 (21-14, 21-17).