Kenya top seeds Sammy Sikoyo and Saumya Gupta will be carrying the nations' medal hopes in racket games when they kick off their Commonwealth Games debut today.
Badminton has always been one of the most exciting and highly anticipated sports at the Commonwealth Games.Since its debut at the 1966 Commonwealth Games, badminton has been included in 14 consecutive editions.
England are the most successful nation with 109 medals in the sport. Malaysia and India are second and third with 64 and 25 medals, respectively.The duo will be hoping to begin Kenya's chapter this year as Gupta who is seeded as the top girl in the country targets the knock out stages."I am excited to train and learn from the best. It my first time where I meet some of the big names in the sport but I am focused. My goal is to get to the knock out stages," said Gupta.
Kenya's men top seed Sikoyo on the other hand said training has helped him get in shape and is ready for any match up."I have been working on shuttle work to ensure I am set. We are good, we have had very intense training sessions and we are prepared for any player I will be drawn against," he said.
The competition will serve off with the mixed team events, which will be followed by the individual events.
16 teams will be divided into four groups in the mixed team events, with each team facing the others in its group once. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout rounds on completion of the round-robin stages.
Elsewhere, John Wijass is confident of helping Kenya win a medal in Birmingham ahead of the 3x3 basketball debut."This was great news to us after the introduction of the game because we have talented players. I am thrilled to be at the games and we cant wait to win," said the KPA forward.
Kenya's men's team start their games with a match against Canada as the women take on Sri Lanka.Only half a court and one hoop will be used for both teams with just 12 seconds on the shot clock in this event instead of the 24 in full court basketball. [Washington Onyango]