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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Indians make great contribution to sports in independent Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Indian community in Kenya has made its mark in Kenyan sports in many ways since the country attained independence in 1963.

During the days of the East African Safari Rally, when the event was a fixture on the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar, Joginder Singh, a Kenyan of Indian origin who went by the moniker "The Flying Sikh", dominated the competition.

He won the event on three occasions at a time when teams from Europe and Japan assembled their best machines for the toughest rally in the world, and is credited with creating interest in motorsport his community.

The husband and wife Safari Rally team of Prem and Pauru Choda, showed that not only was rallying a test of both man and machine, but in their case of man, woman and machine during a time when the longest-serving motorsport administrator was Bharat Bhardwaj.

Aasif Karim, former Kenya national cricket team captain, whose family’s sporting lineage spans three generations, told Xinhua he has been privileged to carry the Kenyan flag on different occasions in diverse sporting venues both in cricket and tennis.

"Mine may just be one of the multitude [of] tales to be told about the Indian contribution to sports in Kenya.

"My story and that of my family is but one of many and I cannot help but think of all those other sportsmen and women that have played their part in making Kenya such an amazingly gifted and talented sporting nation," Karim said.

Avtar Singh Sohal, who captained Kenya’s hockey team through three Olympic Games, is believed in many sporting circles to be one of the greatest Indian sportsmen outside of India.

In tennis, former Industrial Court of Kenya Judge, Saeed Cockar and his brother former Chief Justice of Kenya Majid Abdul Cockar, broke the domination long held by English colonial era players in the late 1950s.

They were closely followed by Yashwin Shretta who dominated the Kenyan tennis scene for over a decade, not to mention Yusuf Karim who won tennis tournaments and remained undefeated for 25 years in Mombasa from 1951 to 1977 from the age of 16 to 42.

In cricket, Kenya dominated the East African scene from the 1960s to early 2000s under talented players like Akhil Lakhani, Jawahir Shah, Zulfikar Ali, and Ramanbhai Patel.

"Post-independence India has to date contributed immensely to sports in Kenya and several teams including hockey and cricket from the sub-continent still visit the East African nation, with coaches and managers having played a major role in the country’s continued success at the Cricket World Cups in the 1990s and in hockey in the 1960s and 70s, especially at the Olympics," Karim remarked.

He said the Indian community has also made immense contributions in sharp shooting and marksmanship as a sport, adding that the current Kenya Police Service shooting team originated from the majority Indian personnel of the Railways Police that was set up during the construction of what was known as the Kenya-Uganda railway line.

             

 

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