Kenya Paralympics stars set sight on Tokyo 2020 glory

Kenya Paralympics star, Samwel Muchai celebrates his 1500m T11 victory. PHOTO/Rio 2016
Kenya Paralympics star, Samwel Muchai celebrates his 1500m T11 victory. PHOTO/Rio 2016

Team Kenya Paralympics star, Samuel Kimani Muchai, is looking forward to Tokyo 2020 after returning home from the Rio 2016 edition in Brazil a double gold medallist.

Muchai claimed two of the three top medals the country won at the quadrennial showpiece in Brazil where the thin squad of nine finished 35 among 83 nations that took part despite being subjected to rough treatment by officials following in the rotten example at the Rio 2016 Olympics,

Paralympics hosts Brazil, appealed against Muchai’s 5,000m T11 gold on claims that he had arrived at the Olympic Stadium late for the competition before his winning performance was upheld after a lengthy appeal and the brightest star was all smiles as he dangled both his medals to the glaring media upon their return on Friday night.

“I prepared very well for the race since the turn of the year. We had good support in the training camp and I think that contributed to the good performances we’ve shown. This does not, however, stop here. I’m going to take a small break before resuming training.

“I would like to dedicate these medals to my country and to my family,” the excited Muchai said.

Teammate, Henry Kiprono Kirwa, who made up for heartbreaking outing four years ago in London to become Kenya’s only other double medal Paralympics winner in Brazil (Men’s 5000m – T12/13 gold and Men’s 1500m – T12/13 bronze) avered he still has a lot more years of running left in his tank.

“I ran a personal best in the 1500m T13 (3.49.59) and that gives me a lot of motivation to keep going. Even with my age I won’t be leaving the track any time soon; not until they can outrun me.

“My next aim is the 2020 Games in Tokyo,” the former world triple Paralympics record holder told Citizen Digital.

The 43-year-old added that his record-breaking 5000m T13 race (14:17.32) instantly earned him invitations to participate in races in Canada, Turkey and Germany and will only have one week to revel in his Rio glory with family before heading out to his first race.

“I feel happy about the opportunities that have opened up for me after Rio and I would like to challenge the youth who are planning to have a career in athletics to work hard, take care of their bodies and stay disciplined,” Kirwa advised.

Nancy Koech Chelagat, the women’s 1500m T11 Paralympics silver medallist attributed her scintillating performance that only saw her narrowly surrender the gold to China’s Jin Zheng on the final day of the Paralympics to good preparation.

Family and hundreds of well-wishers braved the night’s cold at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport carrying gourds of traditional Kalenjin fermented milk, Mursik, flowers, banners, cheers and broad smiles as they waited to meet and greet their stars.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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