The last weekend of March 2008 had its fair share of sports action, as the rains pounded most parts of the country. This was occasioned by the following highlights;
Kenya had a fair start to the inaugural start to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament which targets players playing from the country’s domestic league. Their first leg tie against Tanzania ended in a 1-0 win with the return match 2 weeks from now.
The once-dominant ‘Hit Squad’ got 4 more boxers to represent Kenya in the Beijing Olympics to be held in China in August. The 2nd round of qualifications was held in Windhoek, Namibia. These include; Aziz Ali-light heavy, Bernard Ngumba-flyweight, Nickson Abaka-welterweight and Nick Okoth-featherweight. These join Suleiman Bilali- light-flyweight who will also captain the team.
Let’s hope this revives the strength of the team which was a regular feature in the King’s Cup in Bangkok, Commonwealth, All-Africa Games and Olympics where they gave Africa her 1st ever gold medal through Robert Wangila Napunyi –welterweight in 1988, 20 years ago.
From the Bamburi Rugby Super Series, Lions will meet the Rhinos after the former beat Nguvu Sharks 30-14 while the latter won their tie 39-13 against Cheetahs. This ensured an all-Kenyan final after the 2 invited teams from Tanzania didn’t make it thus far. For more details, check www.rugbykenya.blogspot.com.
Free for all in Hong Kong IRB Sevens -Kenya vs China
(Photo courtesy of IRB Sevens)
The Kenyan team showed why it will be a force to reckon with within the IRB Sevens series by qualifying for the quarter-finals unbeaten and topping their pool against China (47-0), Portugal (19-7) and Scotland (19-7). This meant the team collected 8 points ending the IRB series at 32 points with at least 3 rounds to go. This means the team jumps into 5th place in the IRB Sevens rankings.
The Kenyan cross-country team could not match the Ethiopians who came back to take all the 4 races were taken by their northern neighbours. It was sweet victory for Kenenisa Bekele who swore not to have given up x-country after his loss last year. To make it even more captivating, the diminutive Ethiopian lost his shoe in the first few laps but managed to regain his composure and made mince meat of his opponents. It was a historic win for the young man making him the first man to win the Seniors Cross-country title for the 6th time.
Turnesh Dibaba -Ethiopian athletic queen makes her comeback from last year's 2nd place.
(Photo courtesy of IAAF)
Turnesh Dibaba made it 2 out of 4 with the women’s Senior title while her sister Gezebe Dibaba who,took the juniors women’s race and Ibrahim Jeilan finished off the Ethiopian blitz.
While I maybe viewed as a skeptic, I didn’t expect any magical performance from my Kenyan countrymen, who as expected took 2 team titles in the men’s races. Their training was disrupted earlier this year and their technique of running and winning races has become anyone’s strategy. A lack of consistency is also a point to note, but look at how many athletes we have produced in the last 5 years? With the Ethiopians reading this fast, the Eritreans are hot in pursuit with Ugandans and other countries now making entreaties in what was Kenya’s assured title(s). I’m sure the Athletics Kenya officials will be quick to use these excuses but they better start thinking hard about our coaching and technical expertise as well as the qualification strategy. These issues will come into play again as we take our athletes to the Beijing Olympics Games later this year. More on this check the blog article below.