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How Kenyan squash ace Luchendo is challenging men in their craft

Unique Sports
 Absa Bank's Violet Luchendo in action at KIB Interbank Games at Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi.[Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Absa Bank men and women's squash teams are on the verge of defending their titles at the ongoing Kenya Institute of Bankers (KIB) Interbank Sports in Nairobi.

The teams have so far won their matches with great margins.

One of the players who is standing out in both teams is Kenya seed two Violet Luchendo.

The Commonwealth Games finalist is making history in the games as the only player who is playing in both the men and women's categories where she is both seeded first.

Through her effort, Luchendo has guided Absa to seven back to back gold medals in the women's category.

She has steered the men to six silvers and a gold medal won for the first time last season.

Luchendo is already looking forward to another gold rush with the outfits this season at the squash contests being held at Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi.

Already she has won her five matches in the women's category with a huge margin.

She has also won three of the four matches played in the men's game. Luchendo believes being the only lady in the entire tournament that is challenging men in the discipline should be a wakeup call to the women.

"It should show women that all is possible," she told Standard Sports.

"I have played against men for seven years now, it would be nice to see other ladies coming up to join me as well."

Luchendo is very confident that Absa women will successfully defend their trophy in the tournament for the eighth time. She also believes the men are up to the task for a second gold haul.

"I'm hoping to beat the remaining two men in my pool to make it to the finals, likewise my team mates too in their various pooling. We really have strong players and winning spirits," she said.

Luchendo represented Kenya at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 where she greatly improved her game.

"After the Club Games, my confidence in the sport soared, I was able to return home with amazing skills and tactics," she stated.

And how has she managed to remain in the top three in all these years?

"Elaborate training, consistency, the will and the mental toughness is what has perched me there.

"Without this kind of discipline you cannot make it in the sport," she stated.

Despite being on top of her craft, Luchendo and other prolific players across the country have missed key tournaments of late due to lack of funds.

She was among the national team players, both men and women, who were to represent Kenya at the world championship in Egypt this year but missed out due to lack of funds.

"If we get funding from the government, then the federation will have the capacity to take us to these international events," she said.

Despite the lack of funds, Luchendo is challenging and urging those who love the sport to do it for passion and fitness.

"Just do it, it's for your own good, money is always good but your health is priceless," she says.

"Kindly desire to be fit, opt to mentor others who are coming up, teach them whatever you have been taught in the process."

And what does it take to be a prolific squash player?

Luchendo insists consistency and discipline are key.

"Line up your training days well, watch what you eat, develop a strong mentality, have resilience but most of all consistency.

"If you don't put in the effort every week, then you are not going to be that superstar that you have always dreamt of," she said.

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