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Kenya upbeat for medals in Asaba 2018 African Championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Team Kenya is eyeing to top the tally of the 2018 African Championships in Athletics (ACA) in Asaba, Nigeria despite some delayed action on Wednesday.

The distance running powerhouse last topped the medal charts at their home event in Nairobi 2010 where they bagged 10 gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals to finish ahead of Nigeria and South Africa.

Despite falling victims to the travel chaos that saw the team stranded for 48 hours at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos before finally arriving at the Delta State city on Wednesday afternoon, the East African nation has set sights on dominating the biannual track and field showpiece.

“We are here to compete and win as many medals as possible despite the hiccups here and there, which is normal and it happens with a lot of people coming to Nigeria,” Kenya Team Manager, Abraham Mutai said upon arrival in Asaba.

“We are still focused to taking all the medals, this is a big team from Kenya, we are almost a team of 90 with around 65 athletes and we are ready. As a Team Leader, I’m ready, keeping my team together and focused on what we came to do here,” he added.

The country will be seeking to open their medal account in the men’s 10,000m final on the opening day later Wednesday that organisers reduced to only three events following the travel disorder that delayed the arrival of participating teams.

Reigning world and Commonwealth champions, Elijah Manangoi (men’s 1,500m) and Hellen Obiri (women’s 5,000m) lead a loaded cast of 61 Kenyan athletes that includes past and current world-beaters.

Among others to watch include Beijing 2015 world champions, Julius Yego (men’s Javelin) and Nicholas Bett (men’s 400m Hurdles) as well as London 2017 World Championships silver winner, Timothy Cheruiyot (men’s 1,500m) who is the fastest runner at his distance in the world this year.

“Team Kenya, welcome to Asaba Delta State. Let us take everything in our stride with our usual humility. Good luck and God bless,”  Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei said in an earlier statement to the athletes upon their arrival in Asaba.

Kenya finished third at the last edition of the event, Marrakech 2014 in Morocco behind South Africa and Nigeria with seven gold, eight silver and 10 bronze medals.



Kenya athletes still stranded in Nigeria

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s athlete representative Milcah Chemos and team captain javelin Olympic silver medalist Julius Yego have rebuked organization of the Africa Championships in Nigeria as Kenya team spent a second night stranded in Lagos.

Speaking to Xinhua on phone from Lagos, Yego admonished Nigeria organization for the premier Africa track and field competition saying they may reconsider returning home.

The team left Nairobi on Monday morning and are among at least 200 athletes from about 12 countries that are stuck in Lagos waiting for connecting flight to Asaba, where the Africa championship was due to start Wednesday to Sunday.

“We are stranded for the second day at the airport. We have returned to the hotel yet we have competition starting Wednesday. We are not sure if we will go to Asaba, the city where the Africa Championships is being held, which is about 500 kms from Lagos.” 

Pictures of Kenyan athletes sleeping on the airport floor in Lagos have gone viral on social media and there are reports some other countries have pulled out having travelled to Lagos, but failed to get the connection flight to Asaba.

World 1,500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot said he is frustrated and tired of the long layoff. “I am still stranded in Lagos. This is unimaginable,” he said.


Kenya to plan in advance for smooth Asaba exit

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Wednesday promised to make advance plans for the departure of the country’s team from the 21st CAA Africa Athletics Championships that end on Sunday.

Peter Kaberia, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Sports and Heritage announced a coordinated effort with the Kenya High Commission in Nigeria would be rolled out to bring the team home after the continental track and field showpiece.

“We have been in touch with the team all through and also the embassy has played a great role to ensure they travelled today (Wednesday),” Kaberia told journalists in Nairobi.

The government was issuing a formal statement following reports the team of almost 100 members with 61 athletes was stranded at the Murtala International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria for 48 hours before they finally left for Asaba.

“We will also communicate with the team there and ensure the same does not happen when they are leaving after the championship,” he added, saying they would arrange the return flights and connections for the Kenyan team before Sunday.

The Kenyan officials blamed organizers for the chaos that saw over 300 athletes stranded at the airport sparking outrage across the country with top athletes sharing their grief on social media.

“This was not our doing because we had been in constant communication with the local Organizing Committee and everything was said to have been well planned. They did not have the capacity to handle such a high number of athletes coming in with few flights available,” said Noor Hassan Noor, the Sports Chief Administrative Secretary.

The final batch of athletes arrived at Asaba an hour and a half before the official start of the competition on Wednesday afternoon having left for Nigeria on Monday.



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