Kenya is planning to send 14 Judokas to compete at the World Judo Championship in Azerbaijan later this month, with an eye on the forthcoming Olympics in 2020.
The event in Azerbaijan is crucial, as it will be used by the discipline's international body as qualification platform for its judokas ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“We will do things differently this time and try our best to ensure we bring medals home from the World Championship and even the Olympics,” said Shadrack Maluki, who is the Kenya Judo Association (KJA) chairman.
Kenya has a long history of harnessing most if not all its medals at the Olympics from the field and track, prompting calls by stakeholders including Deputy President William Ruto for diversification.
Maluki spoke during the prize-giving ceremony following the day-long Japanese Ambassador’s Cup Judo tournament staged at the Kasarani Indoor Arena on Friday.
Sports PS Kirimi Kaberia and Japan Ambassador to Kenya Toshitugu Uesawa were among the spectators at this day-long championship which attracted 150 Judokas, most of the youthful, and drawn from clubs within Nairobi.
“I remain optimistic that some judokas from these competitions will be representing Kenya at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and successfully winning the first ever medal in Judo for the country,” said Uesawa.
“Ofcourse we will be heading to Azerbaijan to win, Kenya normally reserves the best for Olympic Games and just like I see you (Uesawa) is very fluent in Kiswahili, we are also coming there to come and compete with you at your own game,” added Kaberia.
During the games, Kenya international Diana Kana of Kenya Prisons won the senior women’s under 70kgs title after easily defeating her Kenya Defence Forces counterpart Alice Lokalei.
Kana had defeated another KDF challenger in the frame of Mary Maina to storm the final. Esther Ikiugu also from Prisons won the Under 63kg category title.
"Winning is all about training, confidence and getting to learn about your partner at the earliest time of interacting with him," she explained.
General Services Unit’s Levi Kipangat also took home the senior men’s 100kgs title after thwarting KDF’s Micheal Amayo whilst Peterson Gatheru clobbered Lexxon Mayanja even as Kenya Prisons dominance continued with George Kimani easily beating KDF’s Kelvin Munangwe.
The winning players and teams were awarded trophies and certificates of merit.