The first batch of Kenyan athletes to the inaugural Africa Beach Games departs Sal, Cape Verde Tuesday night for Nairobi after the conclusion of their events.
The men’s and women’s handball teams, the beach tennis team, along with the karate and well as swimming teams have already checked out and are ready for the trip to Nairobi.
The remaining teams, still in competition, are beach football, volleyball for men and women, and kite-board surfing.
Speaking before the early team departures, National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) President Paul Tergat said the games were an eye-opener for Kenya and motivation for the country to venture into the non-traditional sports.
“Despite the travel logistical nightmare, we have competed well so far and I’m happy that we were able to get our first medals here,” said the former world marathon record holder. He added that Kenya might bid to host these games in the near future.
Different weather conditions
The beach volleyball competition starts on Tuesday with the draw to be conducted in the morning.
“We are ready and we have played together for a long time. We want to qualify for the World Beach Games,” said experienced player Gaudencia Makokha, who noted that despite the different weather conditions and harsh travel, they are all set for the podium.
“The weather is not that friendly but we shall try our best. When we arrived we had a short rest and we have been training twice a day.
Our expectations are high because we have been playing together for long... we didn’t come here just to make up the numbers and we want to win the gold medal so that we can play at the world championships, because we know how sweet it is to play at the world championships in volleyball,” said Too who will team up with Naomie Too.
A positive mind
Makokha added that they will be up against teams that have played on the international beach volleyball circuit but this wouldn’t deter their drive for a medal.
“We have countries that are used to this game and have a beach volleyball circuit like Mozambique, Mauritius and Cape Verde. It’s a challenge but we have a positive mind that we will do fine.”
Too said the windy conditions will make the service tricky but, like Makokha, noted that the advantage of having partnered each other for long will hold them in good stead.
“There are good teams Nigeria, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde but the two of us have good reception and service and have been playing together with each other for long such that when one of us is tired, the other will know what to do to recover,” she explained.
Charles Mneria Yosei bagged a silver in the half marathon on Sunday with Uganda’s Robert Chemonges taking gold in one hour, four minutes and 48 seconds. Yosei clocked 1:05:24 with the bronze going to Djibouti’s Moumin Bouh in 1:06:12.
Kenya’s Florence Malyunga (1:22:37) finished out of the medals in fourth place in the race won by Algeria’s Riham Senani (1:18:20) followed on the podium by Namibia’s Haitope Lavinia (1:19:06) and Uganda’s Priscilla Chelangat (1:20:25).
Kenya’s bronze medal on Sunday came through the men’s doubles beach tennis team of Fazal Khan and Ibrahim Yego who defeated hosts Cape Verde’s David Dias and De Jesus Gildo in two straight sets of 7-5, 7-5 in the play-off.
The island of Sal in Cape Verde is hosting the inaugural African games until Sunday. Kenya is being represented in kiteboarding, athletics (half marathon), canoeing and rowing, beach volleyball, karate, beach football, handball, beach tennis and swimming.
The games in Cape Verde are also picking teams to represent Africa at the World Beach Games.
(National Olympic Committee of Kenya Media)