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Deaflympics: Unstoppable Team Kenya out to shatter records in Brazil

Double Deaflympics champion Simon Cherono Kibai reacts after a training session at Kasarani Stadium on April 12, 2022. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

Unstoppable Team Kenya can only dream of striking gold and shattering records in the 24th Summer Deaflympics in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil on May 1-15.

The squad camping at the MISC Kasarani in Nairobi is already buoyant for this mission ahead of their departure for the games next week.

The contingent of 136 players is optimistic to stage a mighty show in the global showpiece going by their level of fitness at the camp.

Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya Secretary General, Benard Banja says it's only 'Forward Ever, Backward Never' for the high spirited athletes.

"We have never failed in our mission, we have never disappointed the country before.

"I believe we will perform greatly in Brazil.

"I can assure we will do better and return with more medals than in our previous outings," Banja underscored.

Banja's sentiments were echoed by Lilian Adhiambo, the Team Manager for athletics at the camp, who reiterated their mission in Brazil is to lower the men's 10,000m and women's 200m records that have been held by double Deaflympics champion Simon Cherono Kibai and Beryl Atieno Wamira respectively since 2013.

The country will also seek to lower the men's steeplechase record held by Team Kenya captain Lucas Wandia since 2017 and the men's marathon record held by former captain Daniel Kiptum.

The country will also defend the men's 5000m and the men's 1500m races.

Sylvia Kamau, the Team Kenya Chief Executive Officer, said the players are very active at the camp.

She said the athletes are passionate about the various disciplines they are upping training for at Kasarani.

"The players have been fully funded by the state.

"All the training facilities at the stadium have been unveiled to them.

"The government is also catering for their accommodation, allowances, training gear among other necessities," Kamau underlined.

Kamau said the first batch of the contingent will depart to Brazil on Thursday next week while the second lot will leave the country on Saturday.

"The early departures means the players will have 6-8 days to acclimatise to the winter weather currently in Brazil," she said.

At the same time, Miriam Opondo, the Team Kenya Chief Liason Officer, has also come forward to clear the air on why the badminton team will miss the competition in Brazil.

"The badminton team never took part in the World Championships or the African Championships which were qualifiers for the Deaflympics," Opondo said.

"We have urged them to continue training hard ahead of the 2023 World Championships so they can book a berth for the 2025 Deaflympics," she said.

Opondo explained the Kenya Sports Federation of the Deaf (KSFD) presented world deaf games governing body, the

International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD), with video clips of the Kenya badminton team in training and in action to look for a slot for the country in the Deaflympics unfortunately the request was turned down as ICSD said Kenya's standard in the discipline is still very low.

The KSFD President Peter Kalae and Team Kenya Chief De Mission, Tom Okiki are all hopeful that the travelling contingent will raise the country's flag high in Brazil.