Kenya's Second Bite At Olympics Cherry

Today, the world's eyes would have been trained on Tokyo for the opening ceremony ahead of the 32nd Olympic Games.

But on March 24, this year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government unanimous agreed to postpone the Games to same time next year as the world battled to control the spread of coronavirus. The postponement came with much disappointment for those who had qualified, or were yet to qualify, and Kenyans were no exception.

But Kenya's would-be Olympians now say the extension will leave them better prepared.

"Personally, I believe it's another opportunity to leave us better prepared and I shouldn't take this for granted," said featherweight boxer Nick "Commander" Okoth, who will be making his Games return after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"We were all disappointed that the games won't take place this year but I will cash on this extension to prepare well."

Flyweight boxer Christine Ongare said she now has ample time to prepare and make a strong debut at the Olympic Games.

"Covid-19 could have interrupted our plans but this long break should leave us better prepared. We shall have accomplished a lot come next year."

World marathon champion Ruth Chepng'etich might have rued the postponement but hastened to add that it's an opportunity to polish the "weak links" ahead of the games.

"I believe everything happens for a purpose hence God shall provide a solution in due course. We can only pray for good health and a remedy for Covid-19," said Chepng'etich, who won the world marathon title last year in Doha to earn selection in the marathon team for Tokyo Olympics.

The trio were part of Kenyan sportsmen and women, who received training equipment worth Sh600,000 from the National Olympic of Kenya to help them in their personalised training ahead of Tokyo Games.

The athletes were drawn from boxing, tae kwondo, women's national volleyball team and men and women's sevens rugby teams.

Faith Ongalo, the only qualifier in tae kwondo, said the postponement lifted much pressure on her adding that she will work on polishing on her weak points ahead of the games.

"One might think next year is far but that isn't the case. My prayer is for Covid-19 to end so as we can train and compete in peace," said Ongalo.

"We want to help them keep busy and fit ready for the resumption of sporting activities after Covid-19 period," said the commission's chairman Humphrey Kayange.

NOC-K secretary general Francis Mutuku said they will in due course channel more assistance to the athletes.

"We are targeting the 100 athletes who have so far qualified for Tokyo," said Mutuku.

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