Kenya: Team Kenya Upbeat Ahead of African Taekwondo Tourney

Kenya Taekwondo Federation (KTF) has tipped Olympic-bound Faith Ogallo to do well in the African Taekwondo Championships as the country prepares to return to the continental stage on June 5-6 in Senegal after two decades.

Although KTF assistant treasurer Nesmus Wesonga raised concerns on the fitness levels of some of the exponents in the 16-member squad, the official said, “We have high hopes in Ogallo.”

Wesonga, who is the team’s Program and Covid-19 Liaison Officer, noted that the championship will be crucial in ranking Olympic-bound athletes like Ogallo. “Her (Ogallo’s) performance will determine the strength of opponents she will meet at the Tokyo Games in the early stages. The African Championships will count towards the seeding of exponents at the Olympics. Ogallo will thus get a weak opponent in her first bout at the Olympics as she progresses if she does well in Dakar and vice versa,” explained Wesonga who has been a taekwondo coach for 29 years.

Ogallo has been in camp since January together with Everline Aluoch, Sharon Wakoli, Newton Maliro, Innocent Wafula, Edwin Lemise, Sharon Ochieng’ and Joseph Akwany. They train at Pipeline Taekwondo Academy in Nairobi.

Wesonga has raised concerns about the fitness of the latest group which reported to camp on May 23.

These are Kenya’s pioneer taekwondo Olympian Milka Akinyi, Mary Muriu, Edna Sichangi, Cosmas Kalama, Maxwell Chaburu, and Francis Ngugi. Although they have been training individually or with their clubs, they linked up with the team in camp very late at Kasarani Sportsview Hotel.

“We are struggling with the fitness of some players. They have been on a long break and we have a short period to prepare before going to the African championships,” he noted.

Julie Musangi is also in the Dakar-bound team as a sparring partner.

Wesonga also expressed his happiness at the support the taekwondo team has received from government.

“We have had no financial challenges, something which has been a big problem over the years. The government and Sports Fund have funded us fully, including paying for our trip to Senegal for the African Championships. We greatly appreciate this support. We have never got this kind of support which even included our players being on a monthly payroll,” said Wesonga.

He noted that the national taekwondo team was selected in September 2019 with players signing one-year contracts. “We had to recall the exponents because the coronavirus outbreak did not give them a chance to represent the country in 2020 after it disrupted our activities. Despite Covid-19 being a major setback in our preparations, all is not lost.”

Wesonga, who is the CEO of Pamoja Multi Sports Academy that develops talents in various disciplines including taekwondo in Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties, said the Kenyan team will fly to Dakar on May 30. “We are traveling early for acclimatisation purposes and will return on June 8.”

Numbers of exponents expected to battle for honours in Dakar are between 250 and 500.

Some of the competitors, Wesonga said, come from Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tunisia and a refugee team sponsored by Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Other officials who will accompany Kenya taekwondo team to Dakar are Suleiman Sumba (Head of Delegation), George Wasonga (Team Manager), Susan Adina (Team Psychologist), Kamau Waithaka (Administrator), Wilfred Musingo (Federation representative) and two representatives each from the Ministry of Sports and the Sports Fund.


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Author : Nation

Publish date : 2021-05-27 12:08:19

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