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Parents up in arms over Kenyan swimming team selections       

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan Swimming Federation (KSF) is embroiled in another selection controversy with bitter protests from stakeholders over their choice of the country’s representatives for the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, in Australia.

The latest scandal echoes the Rio 2016 Olympics scandal where the local swimming governing body was accused of omitting Rebecca Kamau who had qualified for the Games according to the world body FINA at the behest of KSF.

Kamau is also at the center of a fresh controversy in what has turned out to be a war of words between KSF officials and aggrieved parents of young swimmers who accuse the federation of biased selection.

KSF announced that Sylvia Brunlehner, Issa Mohammed and Steve Maina will have a second attempt to win medals at the Commonwealth Games after they failed at their first outing in 2014.

The three swimmers will be joined by Emily Muteti and Maria Brunlehner, who are making their first appearance at the games.

“We have selected swimmers with the highest global swimming organization FINA points.

"It is based on merit.

"These are active swimmers who have been consistent in their competitions,” Kenya Swimming Federation Interim Management Committee (IMC) official Reginald Okumu said on Monday in Nairobi.

The parents are now threatening to block their children from competing for the country at international competitions unless fresh elections under a new constitution are held at KSF.

In a bid to calm the storm, KSF has asked parents interested in their children vying for Commonwealth tickets, to pay 1,800 US dollars for a regional tournament in Malawi where the Commonwealth team is due to be selected.

“Earlier we demanded a breakdown of the 1,800 US dollars that parents have been asked to pay.

"It is sad to note that we are now seeing the same past disorganization of the KSF in the IMC/CMC,” Njeri Njoroge, the mother of Kamau said in an email to fellow parents.

“Kenya will select the swimmers who have the highest FINA points in their best event, what exactly do you mean by this?” Njoroge continued.

“This is a clause that leaves room for mischief!

"What rationale was used to only pick the one top best event to do the entire selections?”

The row has also roped in the country’s Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) that arbitrates sporting disputes with the judicial body accused of siding with the KSF IMC.

“We can only assume now that these selections were made overnight immediately after this (last) weekend’s gala was finished ... since when does the SDT work on weekends especially Sunday evening?” another parent, Christine Jerome-Joshi said.

Local dailies reported on Thursday that no one forwarded complaints to the Commonwealth Management Committee, the organ charged with assembling Kenya’s team for the Gold Coast.

Efforts by Xinhua to contact the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee-Kenya, Francis Kinyili Paul to shed light on the matter by the time of going to press were futile, with the official saying he was in a meeting.


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