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Kenya’s best chasing Olympic qualification in Doha

UNIQUE SPORTS By Washington Onyango | February 27th 2021
Kenya's Brian Mutua during the International Table Tennis Federation Africa Cup at Kasarani Gymnasium, March 1, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Four Kenya table tennis players will be seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games at the World singles qualification tournament in Doha, Qatar from March 14.

Top Kenyan players Brian Mutua, Josiah Wandera, Doreen Juma and Lydia Setey resumed training last month.

The players have been out for one year, training on their own due to Covid-19 disruption, but resumed group training in January. They have been on two sessions of two hours a day under coach Anthony Mathenge.

“We are used to the training schedule actually because when we used to train at our clubs the whole day. So, two trainings a day is manageable,” said Wandera.

Wandera feels they are not going for the qualifiers as underdogs because of the experience of playing in several international tournaments across the globe.

The experience in the team is massive, with the players having trained in Germany, Denmark and France.

Lydia Setey returns a shot to Everlyne Noah when they played All Africa Games qualifier Table Tennis at Goan Institute in 2015. [JENIPHER WACHIE, STANDARD]

“We are looking for better results because we have gained experience. But it is high time that we show the experience we have been getting from other tournaments. This is a very big stage, and fighting to go for a very big tournament,” he added.

Head coach Anthony Juma says a lot of time was wasted during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and pressure is on the four players to perform.

The National Olympic Committee-Kenya has entered into a partnership with the Kenya Charity Sweepstake to raise funds for the Olympic teams and athletes for the next five years. Juma says this initiative will help solve some of the financial challenges facing teams.

“The partnership with Bomba Lotto (for Kenya Charity Sweepstake) will help a lot of players. We lack many things including some equipment that are very expensive to acquire,” Juma said. 

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