A resilient Luanda Kotieno women's team snatched the annual Brookside Dairy overall title in a close contest during the annual Impala Sanctuary rowing competition held in Kisumu over the weekend.
Under the tutelage of Maureen Owuor, Kotieno, fervently referred to as "Kamin Oringe", shrugged off stiff challenge from Ndere Island Rowers Group to hit home in a time of 15.34:06.
The tournament was organised under the auspices of the Kenya Wildlife Service to raise funds for the conservation of the endangered Sitatunga.
Kotieno bagged Sh100,000 donated by title sponsors Brookside Dairy in the event graced by Forestry and Wildlife minister, Dr. Noah Wekesa and KWS director, William Kiprono.
Earlier, Ndere Ladies appeared set for the ultimate prize when they took charge of the 2km event held on the shores of Lake Victoria at Dunga beach, overlooking the sanctuary. However, halfway into the event, Kotieno, cheered on by an enthusiastic fans who included Kisumu East legislator Shakeel Shabir, unleashed a powerful co-ordinated row that set them ahead of Ndere. They never looked back. Usenge carried home the second runners-up award, returning a time of 17.32:00.
In the men's event, another Lwanda Kotieno outfit, Kaswa, was forced to use every trick in the book to beat a strong challenge mounted by Odanga of Siaya County.
Kaswa returned posted a time of 13.54:70 to lift the men's title while Odanga were confined to the runners up position in a time of 13.58.01.
Earlier, the kick-off of the event was held up for more than one hour as a thick carpet of water hyacinth rendered the lake front impossible to use for the rowing contest, forcing Dr Wekesa to blast the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme (LVEMP) for sleeping on the job as the hyacinth problem worsens in the lake.
Dr. Wekesa said he would impress upon his sports counterpart, Ababu Namwamba, to have rowing established as a regular competition sport, especially in Lake Victoria.
"Rowing has an immense potential of not only serving as a completion sport, but also as a tourist attraction for the Western circuit," Dr. Wekesa said.
The event was in its second year, with director Kiprono appealing to more sponsors to come on board to make it even more challenging.