Blow to Kenya as Paralympics squad is whittled down following directive

By ERICK OCHIENG': Wednesday, August 24th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
KENYA PARALYMPICS TEAM

Team Kenya’s contingent for the 2016 Rio Paralympics has been whittled down following a quota system directive from the world governing body, International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Kenya will now take a squad of nine athletes and a similar number of guide runners in this year’s Paralympics games that get underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil between September 7-18.

Kenya National Paralympics Committee (KNPC) has said the federation has been forced to execute the order following the quota system that has been allocated to Kenya in the global games.

“We have received a new directive from the IPC to enter only nine athletes and a similar number of guide runners for the games,” said KNPC chairperson Agnes Oluoch.

“Initially, we had entered 19 athletes and a similar number of guide runners for the games. They have been in residential camp for over a month now. All these athletes attained the ‘A’ standard. Now our hands are tied and there is nothing much we can do,” said Oluoch.

Among those who have made the new cut includes triple record holder Henry Kirwa and world beaters Samuel Muchai and Wilson Bii.
Others are Erick Sang, Henry Nzungi,Nancy Chelagat,Nelly Nasimiyu,Itaken Timoi(para rowing) and Gabriel Magu(power lifting).

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The athletes will be accompanied by 13 officials including eight coaches, four transferable track officials and a one national Paralympics committee guest. Agnes will also accompany the contingent together with her guide.

The first batch leaves the country on Thursday for Rio, while the remaining batch will depart on September 1.

Oluoch said the federation is grateful for the government through Sports Ministry, mobile phone services provider Safaricom and Mayfair Holdings for supporting the team’s road to Rio.

Mayfair Holdings gave out Sh3.5million, which was used in the qualifiers while Safaricom injected Sh5 million and the Kenyan government Sh132 million.

Meanwhile, an elated Kirwa is hopeful to do a repeat of the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he broke the world record in the men’s T12 1,500m, 5,000m(14:24:02) and 10,000m(31:42:97) categories.

“I have trained extremely hard and I'm now in shape and raring to go, I will be going for nothing but gold in Rio, I have put aside disappointments in the 2012 London Olympics where I did not break any records, I am hopeful to break records in Rio,” said Kirwa.

Likewise, Muchai, who is world record holder in men’s T11 1,500m (3:58:07) category said he is not only looking forward to add another feather in his cup in the men’s 5,000m category.

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