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Quest For Glory: Kenya’s sprint team off to the 20th Commonwealth Games

By Jonathan Komen | July 18th 2014
Sprinters Stephen Baraza, Solomon Bwoga and Collins Omae at Kasarani stadium before leaving for Commonweath Games in Glasgow, Scotland on 17-07-2014.PHOTO/DENNIS OKEYO

Kenya’s sprint team has left for the 20th Commonwealth Games that start in Glasgow, Scotland, on Wednesday.

The team departed from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport yesterday evening to Dubai via the Emirates airline to connect directly to Glasgow.

After many years of heart-breaks at the global stage, Kenyan sprinters dream to have their day in the sun when the track and field contest gets underway next week.

The sprinters want to bring back the glory witnessed in yesteryears in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

Tony Chirchir, who was in Kenya’s team to the inaugural IAAF World Relay Championships in Bahamas last May, said he was confident Kenya can still reclaim the lost grip in sprint races.

“We have had enough preparations and hope we will perform well in Glasgow. The competition in Bahamas helped us pick a number of skills and I believe we will sail through to the final stage and even appear in the podium,” said Chirchir, a soldier with the Kenya Defence Forces at Nyali.

Chirchir, a father of one, said he has no worries as he gears to line up in 100m and 200m against the best from the 72 English-speaking nations.

“I can promise something good now that we have the best athletes. I am sure the sprint race performance is picking up steadily and in a few years, we can match the performance of the 1972 Olympics relay team in Munich. The Safaricom series helped us,” said Chirchir, a finalist at the All Africa Games in 2011.

A quartet of Charles Asati, Hezekiah Nyamao, Robert Ouko and Julius Sangwon won gold medal in 4x400m at the 1972 Olympics Games in Munich.

In 1974, Sabina Chebichii became Kenya’s first woman to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Chirchir, better known as the ‘bet-coat’ in athletics circles, did not betray her Kalenjin surname Chebichii, which means ‘a tough one’ as she settled for bronze in 800m.

The women’s team ofJacinta Shikanda (400m), Millicent Ndoro (400m) and Maureen Chelagat (400m), who were among athletes that left yesterday, will be seeking to emulate the veteran Chirchir.

Jacinta Shikanta, a police officer at Jogoo Police Station in Nairobi, said she expects the best in Glasgow. “We want to do what our former stars did for this nation. We have trained well and are ready for competition,” said Shikanda.

Collins Omae (200m) and Tony Chirchir (100m and 200m) were among the men’s squad. Maureen Chelagat, who competed in the New Delhi showpiece, returns to the Club Games to make amends after she was disqualified for a false start in New Delhi.

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