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Team Kenya embarks on African Games journey

Tuesday August 13 2019

Hanifa Said runs to the 5km finish line pushed by her coach Malik Mzee on August 12, 2019 during triathlon training session at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani ahead of the African Games that will be held in Rabat, Morocco from, August 19-31. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Hanifa Said runs to the 5km finish line pushed by her coach Malik Mzee on August 12, 2019 during triathlon training session at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani ahead of the African Games that will be held in Rabat, Morocco from, August 19-31. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Badminton, Judo, Shooting, Table Tennis and beach volleyball teams will be the first to leave the country Tuesday for the 12th African Games scheduled from August 19-31 in Rabat, Morocco.

Badminton and some members of the table tennis teams depart at 10am, judo team leaves at 5:20pm while the rest of the table tennis, shooting and beach volleyball will fly out at midnight.

The next batch comprising boxing, rowing, handball and chess teams are due to depart on Thursday 5:20pm while some members of the women’s volleyball team will leave in batches on Thursday and Friday at 5:20pm respectively.

The teams leave as the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) delivered the general kit on Monday with the Olympic disciplines set to get their competition kits also from Nock on Tuesday morning.

Wrestling, swimming tae-kwon-do, weightlifting, archery, lawn tennis, kayak and karate will leave on Saturday while athletics team will be the last to depart on Friday next week.

Team Kenya chief executive officer Charles Nyaberi disclosed that the teams will fly out and return via Doha aboard Qatar Airways.

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Volleyball, boxing and triathlon teams exuded confidence on Monday as they gave details on their preparations, challenges, aspirations and hopes.

Back from Rwanda where he was for a decade, new national women’s volleyball coach Paul Bitok said his charges have no choice but to defend their title after they lost in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations to Cameroon a month ago in Cairo.

“I have just been with the girls for one week and I can tell you things won’t be easy in Rabat,” Bitok warned. “The players are in tip-top shape but what I have been working on is their reception which was their undoing in Cairo.”

Having found deep divisions in the team, Bitok said he has tried to bring harmony in the team by talking to all the players individually and as a team.

“I don’t want to talk about the relationship between my predecessor and the players besides between players since that won’t take us anywhere,” said Bitok. Kenya will once again meet Cameroon and Senegal in the Group stages at the African Games.

Bitok said they will need to keep focus since after the African Games, they will head for the World Cup in Japan due September before the Africa qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due January next year.

National boxing team, Hit Squad head coach Benjamin Musa said despite the little time in training, he is confident his team will secure gold medals for the first time since Suleiman Bilali in light flyweight during the 2007 Algiers Games.

“The boxers are in good shape having gone through their technical and tactical aspect of the game,” said Musa who is banking on the women to bring home at least three medals with the men winning six.

Africa champion Nick Okoth (lightweight) is one of the boxers Musa will bank on alongside Africa middleweight silver medallist Elizabeth Andiege. “We hope the draw will also favour us especially in the women’s battle,” said Musa.

Triathlon head coach Harrison Mwangi is banking on experienced Africa Zone Five champion Hanifa Said, 24, and Abdalla Mansour Abdallah to deliver good performances while cautioning against rivals from South Africa and Egypt.

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