Bitok hopeful volleyball team to weather pandemic, dominate Olympics

Friday, May 8th, 2020 00:00 |
Malkia Strikers head coach Paul Bitok (centre) when the team arrived from the Olympic qualifiers in Cameroon. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

Nairobi, Wednesday

Volleyball coach Paul Bitok said the COVID-19 pandemic might have slowed down their program but all is not lost as he relishes the prospects of returning to the court for group training when the health situation improves.

The coach was hopeful to make history by registering a win at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games next year. 

Speaking on Wednesday from Eldoret, Bitok said his plan to have the team camp in Europe and Japan has been approved by government and they hope when they resume training, they will be able to actualise it in 2021. 

“We had good sponsorship. The government had promised us to train here at home, one month in Europe and one month in Asia prior to the Olympics,” said Bitok.

Turkey and Japan were the preferred destination for the Kenya national women’s team and Bitok believed that experience will be critical as they seek to firm their grip on the top of continental volleyball while making inroads on the global stage.

 “I hope the plan will not change even with the rescheduled Olympics so that we may go on and attain our dream to dominate at the Olympic stage in 2021,” said Bitok.

Kenya will face a baptism by fire on return to the Olympics after their last show in Athens in 2004.

Kenya’s Malkia Striker will be up against hosts Japan in Pool A with Serbia, the reigning world and European champions and Rio 2016 silver medalists.

Other teams are double Olympic champions Brazil, South Korea and Dominican Republic.

However, Bitok believed his side, with good preparations and exposure matches lined up in Japan and Turkey, will be able to gain more experience and claim some scalps when the rescheduled Tokyo Games start on July 24 to August 9.

Video workouts

But with the coronavirus pandemic restricting training, Bitok has been monitoring his players performances and video workouts.

“I urge the players to maintain their fitness levels high even during this time of the coronavirus to ensure they make the final cut when we will resume training,” the coach added.

The team is training at their homes and they send their videos to the coach. “If we don’t follow them, it will be a problem for us.

I am doing research on the teams we are going to meet so that we know their weaknesses and exploit on the same when the Olympics is held next year,” Bitok said.

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