Kenya Paralympics sprinters hunger for medals

Henry Kirwa (3rd left) competing in Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in China. PHOTO/File
Henry Kirwa (3rd left) competing in Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in China. PHOTO/File

After making the final of London 2012, sprinter Henry Nzungi Mwendo is optimistic of landing the top medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games with Team Kenya sprints trainer Michael Omondi confident the squad will land at the podium.

During the previous Olympics in London, Kenyan sprinters failed to bag any medal with Nzungi who runs the men 400m, T12 category the best performer.

Nzungi, Hannah Ngendo Mwangi (women 200m, T12) and Gilbert Langat Kiprugut (men 400m, T12) are the short distance runners that made Rio 2016.

Nzungi who is the most experienced member of the sprint squad is optimistic of clinching victory in Brazil.

“I have been performing well in all qualifiers in Dubai, Morocco and Tunisia and my dream is to compliment it gold in Brazil now that I have gained a lot of experience since 2012.I have fully loaded in the gym work, sharpened in the first and last 100m meters and also done enough endurance and speed work,” he enthused.

Langat, who won a bronze in Dubai to qualify for Rio has been training at different places to adapt to varied weather.

“My performance in Morocco dropped because I was affected by the country’s weather conditions. I have been training in Eldoret, here in Nairobi and Iten which is a little bit cooler,” the Moi University graduate added.

After disqualification for a false start in London, Ngendo has learnt from the unfortunate error and is ready to bounce back.

“It was painful but however, my coach has provided me with proper guidance on starting. I have been closely monitoring tactics and skills from my main competitors from Cuba and Great Britain and of course working out on how to outdo them,” she told Citizen Digital.

“My team has no any excuse for failing to win medals as enough support has been offered to us from all quota and the athletes are well motivated.

“They are in a good mood, training has been fantastic and for the first time it has been scheduled for longer and that will provide us enough time to sharpen skills and tactics,” Omondi told Citizen Digital at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium.

Stephen Wesonga (men 400M,T47), Nancy Chelangat (women 200M, T11) and Irene Cherono (women 400M, T46) who won gold at the Africa Paralympics championships hosted at Morocco mid this year failed to qualify for Rio.

“Olympics has its criteria, there are two kinds of qualifications, A and B. Kenya is classified on a higher level than other countries and chances of being considered were very slim since they qualified with B standard which does not guarantee any athlete entry or qualification to the Olympics,” Omondi explained.

The Paralympians are scheduled to travel between September 5 and18 with Kenya represented by 26 track and field athletes, a power lifter and a para rower.

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Story By Edward Mokuah
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