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Paralympians sound warning: Kirwa, Kipkogei lead Kenya's medal hunt in Tunis today

WEIRD NEWS
By ERICK OCHIENG' | March 23rd 2015
PARALYMPICS
National paralympics team at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday before departing to Tunisia for the Ninth Tunis International Meeting. [PHOTO:ERICK OCHIENG/STANDARD]

Henry Kirwa, the 2008 Beijing Paralympics triple world record holder, is confident Kenya will stage an excellent showing at the ninth International Meeting that begins in Tunis, Tunisia, today.

The showpiece serves as qualifying platform for the World Championships and the 2016 Rio Paralympics, which comes days after Olympic Games.

Kirwa, the United Nations Development Programme Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ambassador for Africa, is among the 15-man squad flying the national flag in the North African nation lining up in T12 1,500m and 5,000m races.

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC)-sanctioned event offers athletes an opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) Paralympics and 2015 World Championships this October in Doha, Qatar.

"One of my resolutions this year is to have a repeat performance of Beijing Paralympics seven years ago, where I won three gold medals just like Jamaica's Usain Bolt. I am eager to qualify in Tunisia because I want to break records in Qatar and Rio," said Kirwa, who won 1,500m bronze in 2012 London Paralympics.

Kirwa, who set world records in 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m in Beijing, is focusing on 1,500m and 5,000m categories.

David Kipkogei Korir, the 2012 London Paralympics 800m and 1,500m silver medalist, who will compete in T13's 1,500m and 800m categories said before leaving the country on Saturday night: "The Kenyan contingent is fired up for glory. I can assure you we will return with medals." 

David Rono Boit, the 2006 javelin world silver medalist, said he has trained hard and hopes for a good show in Tunis.

All Africa Games 800m bronze medalist Jonathan Kipchumba Sum said he is hopeful to make a mark in T37- 400m and 800m races.

"I am in great shape. I am ready for the contest," said Sum at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday.

Other medal prospects in Tunis include 2010 Great Lakes 800m, 1,500m and 400m champion Samuel Kuria Ngige and Hillary Kemboi Kibet.

Kenya National Paralympics Committee (KNPC) chairperson Agnes Oluoch and KNPC team manager Patrick Mutisya thanked Sports ministry for enabling the team travel to Tunisia despite the short notice.

"I am grateful to Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario for his quick action despite the short notice. The funds helped us to cater for the athletes' air tickets, kits and equipment," said Oluoch.

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