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ALL SET FOR LOS ANGELES: State and corporates rally together to send 51 athletes for Special Olympics in Los Angeles

National Special Olympic 5,000Mts Women Finalists during the Special Olympic National Finals picking for the Los Angels next year at University Of Nairobi on Friday, September 19th, 2014. Photo/Jonah Onyango.

Kenya is sending a contingent of 68 athletes and officials to the 14th edition of the Special Olympics World Summer Games slated for Los Angeles, USA.

The contingent of 51 athletes, 14 coaches and three officials departs tonight for the games to take place on July 25 - August 2, 2015.

Kenya will participate in six disciplines which include football, athletics, swimming, half marathon, basketball and handball.

Kenya won 35 medals including 21 gold, 13 silver and a bronze at the last Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Athens, Greece in 2011.

“We have trained well during our 10 days in camp at Kasarani. Our level of fitness is good,” said women football captain Mary Stellar Ndolwa.

Jerry Rawlings Ooko said he will be out to help Kenya break the silver medal jinx in handball. Kenya missed gold by a whisker in the discipline in the past World Summer Games in Athens (2011) and China (2007).

“We knew where we went wrong in the past championships, we have toiled to improve on performance and hopes are high that we will return with gold from the Los Angeles games,”Ooko said.

At the same time, the government has come to the rescue of the team Special Olympics Kenya (SOK) team by donating 68 return air tickets worth Sh17 million.

Apart from the government, the team has been boosted by other sponsors to meet the intended Sh50 million budget for the global games.

The sponsors include Safaricom (Sh2 million), National Bank of Kenya (Sh1 million), Cooperative Bank (Sh1 million), Friends of Special Olympics (Sh800, 000), ICEA Lion (Sh500,000), Kenya Charity Sweepstakes (Sh400,000), NIC Bank (Sh250,000), former cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae (Sh200,000), Somok Investments (Sh200,000), Motor Gari (Sh200,000),Farmers Choice(Sh40,000) and Adidas (Sh3.5million).

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“The better part of the budget has been taken care of by corporates and well-wishers, with the government coming in handy with the tickets to make the trip possible. I express my gratitude to all those who made this undertaking succeed,” said SOK National Director John Makathimo.

The team is kitted by Adidas while Safaricom provided Kasarani stadium for their training during the ten-day camp at Pac University.

The Los Angeles games are meant to celebrate unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of remarkable courage and skill, coupled with sporting values by athletes with disabilities from all walks of life.

The games will attract 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators. One of those involved in the celebration will be Olympic heroine and gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci from Romania.

“In 1976 I made history by scoring the first-ever perfect 10 in gymnastics at the Montreal Olympic Games. It profoundly changed my life. It was an incredibly proud moment for me, my team, my family and my country,” said Comaneci.


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