Kenya: Teenage Girl Among Weightlifters Hunting for Olympic Slots

A Form One student is on the list of weightlifters Kenya will be banking on in the hunt for Tokyo Olympics tickets at the Africa Senior Championship at Ruaraka Sports Club in Nairobi from Wednesday.

In an interview with Nation Sport on Tuesday, coach Douglas Locho predicted that Kenyan female weightlifters, including Mbagathi High student Rachel Achieng', stand a good chance of doing well.

Locho is buoyant of a great show at home despite losing most of the experienced weightlifters who have retired in the last few months.

"The competition will be tough for us because our team is new and not many players have competed in the senior level in African competitions. Our chances are not so high but we shall fight."

Locho believes the likes of Janet Oduor (45kg category), Caroline Wangechi (55kg), Wilkister Nyiro (76kg) and Achieng' (64kg) can impress.

Winnie Langat (59kg), Franklin Atete (73kg), Geoffrey Otieno (81kg), Maurice Aromo (89kg), and Anthony Libasia (73kg) will also represent the hosts at the week-long event.

Despite being just 15, Achieng' is not new to weightlifting.

"While still aged 11, Achieng' bagged three gold medals at the 2017 Africa Youth and Junior Championships in Entebbe, Uganda. She won a bronze medal at 2019 Africa Senior Weightlifting Championships in Nairobi," said Locho.

Achieng' also took part in the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco where she did not win any medal.

Kenya's nine-member weightlifting team has been training together at Parklands Sports Club since May 1 after the government lifted the suspension on sporting activities. Before that, the weightlifters trained individually in Kitengela and Pangani.

Weightlifters from Cameroon, Uganda, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Nigeria had arrived in the country on Monday night.

More countries, including Lesotho and Botswana were expected before draws take place later Tuesday.

The teams underwent coronavirus testing on Monday and Tuesday. Locho is being assisted by James Adede - Kenya's representative in weightlifting at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Adede is one of the experienced players who have retired to pave way for a rebuilding process.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was illustrated using the picture of weightlifter Winnie Atieno Okoth. We have since learnt that Atieno is not among the weightlifters vying for places in Team Kenya for the 2020 Olympic Games. We apologise for the mix-up, and any embarrassment caused.

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