Kenya to widen medal bracket at Olympics beyond athletics, boxing
Kenya hopes that after years of planning, the country will wean itself off athletics and boxing and have medals in a range of disciplines.
Chief de Mission of Kenya team Waithaka Kioni believes indoor games like taekwondo, karate and table tennis have the ability to tilt the tables and win the country medals in Tokyo, Japan next year.
So far, Kenya has won 103 medals - 96 in track and field and seven in boxing - at the Olympics since their debut in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia. “We have strong candidates for the Olympics in disciplines beyond athletics and boxing. We hope to win medals in rugby Sevens, swimming, karate and taekwondo. However, we also want to safeguard our turf in athletics and boxing and we will give these disciplines more support in their preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games,” Kioni told Xinhua on Thursday.
The Tokyo Olympic Games are scheduled for July 24 - August 9, 2020 in Japan. Kioni said the country has high hopes that more athletes will make the cut and qualify for the Tokyo Games from athletics, women’s football, men’s rugby Sevens, women’s volleyball, judo, taekwondo, wrestling, shooting and boxing.
Kenya is budgeting to spend over 600 million shillings (6 million U.S. dollars) with a squad of about 100 athletes making the finals in Tokyo. Two years ago in Rio, Brazil, Kenya had 89 athletes - 47 men and 42 women - and spent about 5.4 million dollars.
However, issues of cash misappropriation were reported which has since several sports officials from Kenya taken to court to answer fraud and corruption-related cases. “We promise better administration and management of the team. The budget is not final and will depend on the number of athletes that make the cut and different requirements by the individual federations. More federations are still going through the qualifying processes,” Kioni said.
Kioni said the first batch of athletes will arrive in Kurume City training camp in June, at least one month prior to the start of the Olympics. “However, other disciplines like athletics have requested to remain in Kenya longer. However, those in indoor games will arrive early. Other disciplines will present their programs and will deliberate on them individually,” he added.
Track and field and boxing remain the only disciplines to have won medals for the country in the games. The last three Olympics have been the most successful for team Kenya producing 42 medals between them.