By Erick Ochieng’

Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya is gearing up preparation for the 22nd Summer Deaflympics Games scheduled to take place in Sofia, Bulgaria, on July 26 – August 4.

Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya (DAAK) conducted regional trials in February, ahead of the nationals on June 5-6 in Nairobi for the global games.

“DAAK has a plan to conduct ten regional trials in the designated counties to select athletes for the national trials. So far we have hosted the first three trials including Nyanza, Nairobi, and Western regions,” said DAAK Public Relations Officer Tom Okiki.

 In the Nyanza trials held in Kisii 24 athletes were chosen, 18 made it in the Nairobi trials, while Western trials that were held in Kakamega realised 20.

DAAK is planning to conduct its South Rift trials on April 12 at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, North Rift trials on April 13 at Eldoret’s 64 Stadium, and in Central Kenya on April 27 at the Kerugoya Stadium.

Other trials are North Eastern (Garissa), Coast (Mombasa), Upper Eastern (Embu) and Lower Eastern (Machakos) on May 11.

“We are trying our best to select competitive athletes for the national trials. The national championships will be used to constitute the best qualified team to represent the country at the 2013 Deaflympic Games where Kenya is already eyeing for medals,” said Okiki.

DAAK officials say they are using their own support to conduct the grassroots and regional trials, which are expensive owing to the limited funds.

 Due to the high cost of preparation for the games DAAK is now appealing to private sectors, corporate organisations and well-wishers to fund their preparation.

“The Government through Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has been supportive, and so I kindly request other well-wishers to  help us realise our dreams and be good ambassadors to Kenya at the Sofia games,” pleaded Okiki.

Kenya is planning to send a strong squad of athletics and basketball   to Sofia.

 The country’s aim in Sofia is to improve from the seven medals (four gold, two silver and a bronze) that were won in Taipei, China in 2009.

DAAK held a first ever deaf marathon competition on November 25, 2012 at Moi Stadium in Kisumu to jump start its road to Sofia campaigns.

The Deaflympics Games are Olympic-like games that take place every four years.

The games are globally contested by the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing in different disciplines including athletics, football, basketball, volleyball, swimming among others.

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Deaflympics Sofia Bulgaria