Kenyans start chase for medals at Africa meet in Cameroon

100m hurdler Rukia Nusra celebrates after winning at the Olympic trials at the Nyayo National Stadium. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

As the African Senior Athletics Championships kick off in Douala, Cameroon today (Friday), the Kenyan contingent is on a mission to write history, once again.

Kenya topped the charts back-to-back in the 2018 and 2022 editions and the country’s charges are gearing up for another historic top spot at the continental showpiece.

At the last outing in Mauritius, Kenyan stars claimed the overall title after bagging ten gold, five silver and eight bronze medals. The country was also top of the continent in 2010, 1984 and 1992.

Apart from topping the charges, Olympic dreams will be echoing at the State de la Reunification in Douala ahead of the 2024 Paris showdown in July and August.

Stars who have already secured their tickets to the Paris Olympics will be competing alongside counterparts who will be racing against time to meet the qualifying standards for the global contest.

For instance, 400m hurdler Wiseman Were, surprise 800m winner at the national Olympics trials Lilian Odira and 400m star Zablon Ekwam are among stars who have already booked their tickets to Paris, and taking part in the African Senior Athletics championships in Douala.

Three-time 100m national champion Mark Otieno and Sarah Moraa, who placed third in 800m at the national trials last weekend are among the country’s bigwigs chasing Olympic Games qualification standards in Douala as the June 30 window fast approaches.

Otieno clocked 10.12 against the 10.00 qualifying time at the national trials while Meshack Babu, who is also competing in Douala, clocked 10.20. Both are hoping to sprint to Olympic standards and make the team to Paris.

The 4x400m mixed relay, as well as the 4x400m men consisting of Boniface Mweresa, Zablon Ekwam, Brian Onyari, and David Kapirante will also be using the African Senior Athletics competition to hit the qualification mark.

After powering past the Moraas (Mary and Sarah) to win the women’s 800m race at the recent national trials in Nairobi, Odira is in Douala with one agenda - a podium finish. She will also be firing a warning shot.

“My major target in Cameroon is to bring home a medal. My high hopes will be gold but the main focus is a podium finish. After that, I will be back to prepare for the Olympics,” Odira, who is making a comeback from a maternity break said upon arrival in Douala.

It will be Odira’s first time flying the Kenyan flag.

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