The national roller skating team arrived back in Nairobi on Monday night with a rich medal harvest from the just concluded inaugural African Roller Games in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital, Kinshasa.
Although bruised and exhausted from 10 days of non-stop competition, the four-man team comprising, Teddy Andanje Tyrone Jowi, Ishmael Imani, Jeff Mungai, and their team manager Naomi Wambui, expressed satisfaction with their performance.
And they had every reason to be, having overcome all sorts of financial and logistic challenges to finish third at in the competition with 13 medals five gold, four silver and four bronze.
Benin topped the standings with 49 medals — 22 gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze — followed by hosts DRC who bagged 39 medals — seven gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze.
But just how did such a lean team of skaters hold their own against stronger and better equipped teams?
Team manager Naomi Wambui said it is those very challenges that drove the team to perform remarkably.
“The sacrifices we made to get to Kinshasa had to count for something. Yes, it was really tough for us, but, in the end, the many challenges we faced boosted the team’s morale,” Wambui exclusively told Nation Sport on Tuesday.
Worked as a team
Team captain Andanje, who bagged six medals — two gold, three silver and one bronze — admitted that the team was dispirited on day one after winning just one silver medal.
“What worked for us is the fact that we decided to work as a team. We were really crushed after winning just one medal on the first day. But that evening we sat down and decided to make something good out of a very bad situation,” Andanje said.
“Having arrived late for the tournament, it was tough trying to motivate and help each other, but in the end it paid off well,” he added. Fourteen-year-old Mungai, the youngest team member, who hopped into a plane just one day after completing his KCPE examinations, said he was thrilled when he won a gold medal in the junior men’s 10-kilometre contest.
“I had prepared well for this tournament, which was my second major outing. I was assured of a win,” said Mungai, who also won two bronze medals in the junior men 10-kilometre points and elimination and junior men 15-kilometre elimination.
Kenya’s other medals were won by 17-year-old Tyrone Jowi, who bagged two gold medals, and 18-year-old Ishmael Imani, who won a silver and a bronze medal. Team coach Mercy Andaje however said the absence of female skaters in the team was one big missed opportunity in Kinshasa.