Kenya’s Malkia Strikers to represent Africa in Tokyo Olympics - Evewoman
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Kenya’s Malkia Strikers to represent Africa in Tokyo Olympics

Malkia Strikers celebrate seeing off hosts Cameroon in the Olympic Qulifiers (Courtesy)

Malkia Strikers reigned supreme yesterday in Yaoundé, Cameroon by thrashing Nigeria 3-0 to secure the lone African ticket to Tokyo Olympics Games set for July. 

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The Paul Bitok-coached team needed to beat Nigeria to be 100 per cent certain of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics Games that is set to start on July 24 – August 9 after having seen off arch-rivals Cameroon on Tuesday night.

The squad led by veteran Mercy Moim and dependable left attacker Sharon Chepchumba fired attacks to ensure Kenya got the straight sets victory of 25-15, 25-21, 25-12 against the Nigerians.

Malkia Striker's Sharon Chepchumba at Kasarani during their last training ahead of the Africa 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers (Jonah Onyango)
Malkia Strikers captain Mercy Moim (Jonah Onyango)

After sweeping Nigeria aside, Kenya completed the clean sweep at the championship that saw them defeat Egypt 3-1, whip Botswana 3-0 before winning the five-set thriller against hosts Cameroon 3-2, a match which was dubbed ‘decisive.’  

Kenya started the match against Nigeria yesterday on a high leading the West African 11-2 before winning the first set 25-15.

On restart the Kenyan girls picked the game from where they left, leading 4-1, before the Nigerians stepped up to tie the scores at 5-5. Nigeria then stubbornly pushed the Kenyans throughout the set before eventually falling to the African Games champions 25-21.

In the third set Kenya raced to a 14-7 lead against the Nigerians coached by Samuel Ajayi before emerging victorious 25- 12.

A total of five teams contested the women’s qualification including hosts Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Botswana and Nigeria.

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Bitok took over Malkia Strikers last year after 10 years of coaching in Rwanda and has since won the African Games title and made sure Kenya returned to the Olympic Games after a 16-year absence and also won one match at the FIVB World Cup in Japan.

Kenya last featured at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games where they finished 11th on both events, but failed to qualify for the Games in 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio) events.

Malkia Strikers setter Jane Wacu (FIVB)

After participating at the 2008, 2012, 2016 Olympic qualifiers unsuccessfully, Moim, the senior most player alongside Jane Wacu will finally have a chance at the Olympics.

Other members of the team that played in Cameroon were setter Joy Luseneka, left attackers Leonida Kasaya, Sharon Chepchumba, Noel Murambi; centre players Edith Wisa, Joan Chelagat, Gladys Ekaru; right attackers Violet Makuto, Emmaculate Chemutai, Jemimah Siangu and liberos Agripina Kundu and Elizabeth Wanyama.

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