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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Olympic javelin silver medalist Julius Yego
leading Kenya Gold quest to Africa Games

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic silver medalist Julius Yego seeks to revitalize his career and believes the Africa Games, which will be held in rabat, Morocco will offer him the platform to restore a winning mentality.

Yego leads a squad of 60 track and field athletes that will represent the country in the African Games from August 23 to September 3.

Kenya won five golds in the last games in Brazzaville, Congo and they hope to improve on that collection.

Injuries and loss of form have forced the 29-year-old to limit the number of competition appearances but the Kenyan feels he has recovered lost fitness and will be looking to contend for the gold in Morocco.

"For the first time in over four years, I have no injury worries.

"However, I felt some slight pain in my ankle as I was throwing the javelin, which I believe is a minor setback though, it will not affect my preparations for the Games," said Yego.

The reigning African javelin champion, threw a leading 78.02 meters with Alexander Kiprotich who managed 74.79 meters the only other javelin to hit the qualification mark for the continental games.

World 3,000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech set a time of 9:26.64 minutes ahead of Mercy Wanjiru (9:28.85) and Roselyn Chepngetich (9:32.10) to book her ticket to Morocco.

In the corresponding men’s race Benjamin Kigen ran a 8:16.43 ahead of Joash Kiplimo who came in second in 8:21.94 as the duo earned direct qualification.

"This is important to my budding career.

"I have to be careful not to be over confident because I am still young and breaking through the senior cadre takes time.

"But I have my strategy going to Morocco, which I hope will earn me a medal," said Chepkoech.

World Under 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet will team up with Lilian Kasait in 5,000m at the African Games where World and Africa Under-20 1,500m champion George Manangoi will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother Elijah Manang’oi, who holds the World, Commonwealth and Africa 1,500m titles.

Senior Manangoi has opted to give the games a pass this year, instead letting his younger sibling, George, the chance to take up the mantle and keep the family name flying high.

"I am plotting my own path in athletics.

"We may be competing in 1,500m race and training together, but I want to be my own athlete and carve my own path," said Manangoi.

"In Morocco, the pressure will be on me to win and I intend to do just that."

The 2008 Olympic Games 5000m bronze medalist Edwin Soi announced his comeback to track as he stunned the Olympic Games 10,000m silver medalist Paul Tanui to stroll to victory in 10,000m.
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Kenyan former world 800m champ seeks ticket to Africa Games

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Veteran Kenyan athlete and former World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei has returned to competition for the first time in four years, eyeing a slot in the Kenya team to the Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco from August 23 to September 3.

Jepkosgei, 35, last competition was back in Beijing World Championships in 2015 before she took a sabbatical to have her first baby. She will compete in Nairobi this weekend in Athletics Kenya trials for Africa Games.

"After the birth, I had this strong bond with my daughter and it was hard to live her on her own as I ventured into training.

"But I need to return to competition and get the feeling of running competitively once more and there is no big stage than the Africa Games to do it," said Jepkosgei on Thursday in Nairobi.

It is exactly 13 years when Jepkosgei, who is nicknamed Eldoret Express, broke on the world stage and forced Maria Mutola of Mozambique off the road at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

She went on to win gold at the Osaka World Championships in 2007 and scooped silver at Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships.

Trained by coach Claudio Berardelli in Eldoret, Jepkosgei said she stepped up her preparations to regain fitness in January and would relish the challenge from the youngsters out to secure their tickets to the Africa Games.

She has been training with 2013 Moscow Championships 800m champion Eunice Sum.

"You never know what will happen," said Jepkosgei. Jepkosgei will however be running in the 1,500m race.

In the men’s race World Junior 1500 champion George Manangoi won in the four lap race semis to qualify for African Games finals in Nairobi.

He will face Africa Junior champion Vincent Keter.

World and Commonwealth 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi and 2018 Diamond League Trophy Winner Timothy Cheruiyot will miss the action.

Top two finishing athletes in the final will qualify from their respective events to the Games with the panel of selectors deciding the third entry.

After the trials, Kenya will name 65 athletes to represent the country at the continental showpiece, where it hopes to improve on its five gold medal haul from the 2015 games in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.
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UPDATE:

Kenyan athletes need permission to compete at Diamond League meetings

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan athletes selected for the Africa Games will have to seek special permission to compete in the lucrative Diamond League.

Head coach Julius Kirwa has warned that Kenya is under pressure to deliver the medals at the Africa Games and will need its best talent to remain fresh and avoid burn out ahead of the competition slated for Rabat, Morocco from August 16-30.

"There is pressure on Kenya especially in middle and long distance.

"Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia have upped their game.

"The host Morocco will also seek to dominate and this will eat into our medal haul.

"Therefore, to challenge that, we need our elite runners to remain fresh and focused on the task ahead," said Kirwa on Tuesday in Nairobi.

In the last games held in Brazzaville, Congo in 2015, Nigeria topped the medals standings with 21 medals, 10 gold, six silver and five bronze ahead of Ethiopia in second with 20 (6-7-7) while Kenya settled for third place with 17 medals, five gold, five silver and seven bronze.

"We need to return to the top and athletics has been our best bet.

"That is why we must have our best talent in right frame of mind to scope the medals," said Kirwa.

Coach Kirwa says he is confident with the team selected for the games as they have the quality and experience to fight for the medals.

Kenya has selected 61 athletes for the games, which are viewed as a mini-Olympics.

"I have had to lead teams with less quality and I believe the difference is in the focus and concentration.

"They can achieve anything they set their minds on and we need to help them attain their optimal best.

"Some of these athletes are returning from injuries and need to shake off their rust.

"It will be good if they immerse themselves in training and hope to stun the continent in Morocco," he added.

Kirwa, one of the country’s most successful coaches having guided Kenya in 2008 and 2012 Olympics, is optimistic the team will deliver medals in August.

"The quality of the team is okay and there’s no worry about that.

"When we go to camp, we must put our thoughts together, athletes and coaches alike because to succeed, we must be united.

"We will mold them pretty well to give us impressive performances in Morocco.

"Athletes will give permission to compete in the Diamond League series based on the duration that we will train," added Kirwa.

Athletics Kenya vice president in charge of competitions Paul Mutwii believes with good show in Morocco, Kenya will be on the right course to dominate at the World Championships, which will be held in Doha, Qatar in October.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Foreign teams from Malawi, Zambia and DRC compete in regional CECAFA Cup

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Zambia, Malawi and Democratic Republic of Congo will send teams to join other 11 member States of the Council of East and central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) for this year’s regional Kagame Cup.

Nicholas Musonye, CECAFA Secretary General, confirmed that Tanzanian clubs Simba and Yanga have opted out of the 16-team tournament, which starts in Kigali, Rwanda from July 6-21.

"It is unfortunate that some Tanzanian clubs are giving the tournament a bye.

"We will not miss them.

"Let them go.

"They will fail to utilize the opportunity to have their players gain experience against some top teams from the region.

"We are not bothered nor moved by their exit," Musonye said on Monday in Nairobi.

CECAFA has teams from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Zanzibar, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Musonye however said the void left by the two Tanzanian teams will be filled by the foreign teams that have been invited.

Already Malawi’s Big Bullets, Zesco United of Zambia, DRC’s AS Vita and Motema Pemba have confirmed participation in the tournament as guest teams.

The annual club tournament returns after it was shelved last year owing to logistical challenges and lack of funding.

This year’s tournament will be funded by Rwanda president with a prize purse of 60,000 U.S. dollars.

Kenya will be represented by two teams - Gor Mahia who finished third in the last edition held in Dar es Salaam and Bandari.

"We shall spread the matches in Kigali City, Rubavu and Huye Districts to enable the citizens of Rwanda and neighboring countries attend the match in the stadium and watch matches Live," added Musonye.

Defending champions Azam SC and KMC will represent Tanzania with Uganda will sending KCCA and Proline.

Rayon Sport and Apr represent Rwanda, Somali’s Heegan, Ports of Djibouti and Zanzibar’s KMKM will be the other participating teams.

The tournament will offer the teams a platform to gauge their preparedness ahead of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) Champions League and Confederations Cup which are due in August.
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Four countries to represent Africa at volleyball World Cup in Japan

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya, Egypt, Cameroon and Tunisia have been confirmed to represent Africa in this year’s volleyball World Cup, which will be held in Japan in September.

Kenya and Cameroon will compete in the women’s competition while Egypt and Tunisia will enter teams in the men’s edition.

However, world volleyball governing body, FIVB says this year’s competition will not be part of the Olympic qualification process.

Kenya Volleyball Federation vice chairman Charles Nyaberi says the team has resumed training one week after winning the Zone Five Africa championships in Kampala.

Nyaberi stated that he hopes they will continue to polish their skills under Italian coach Shailen Ramdoo.

"We have a busy program and we need our best talent on show.

"Alongside the World Cup, we have to focus on the Olympic qualification," said Nyaberi on Monday in Nairobi.

The World Cup will feature, for each gender, hosts Japan, the reigning world champions, plus the top two teams from each continental confederation according to the FIVB World Rankings.

Kenya and Cameroon are the top ranked in women while Egypt and Tunisia lead the men’s rankings.

The women’s competition will run from September 14 to 29, followed by the men’s event from October 1 to 15.

The 12 participating teams will be involved in a single round-robin competition over 11 match days, with one single ranking per gender.

Three games will be played at the same venue for each match day.

The Women’s World Cup will start with the group stage in Yokohama and Hamamatsu over five match days, before the teams travel to Sapporo and Toyama for three more matches.

The competition will wrap up in Osaka.

Last time around, China claimed women’s gold, followed by Serbia and the U.S.

The U.S. dominated the men’s competition, with Italy taking silver and Poland bronze.

Kenya will also face Italy, who finished second at the World Championships, the Netherlands and Belgium in the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament that will be played in Italy from August 2 to 4.

Ramdoo will use the Olympic qualifiers and the Africa Games (Morocco) to gauge his players’ progress before heading to Japan for the volleyball World Cup.

Ramdoo has called up youngster Gladys Ekaru to the 14 member women’s volleyball squad that begins training in Nairobi for the July 5-15 African Nations Cup in Cairo, Egypt.

"Good response and progress from the players after our sessions hit the peak and the training is going on pretty well and we can only hope for the best going forward," said Ramdoo.

Ekaru, alongside experienced duo of Elizabeth Wanyama and Brackcides Agala and the much improved Joy Lusaneka were not part of the team that recently participated at the All Africa Games qualifiers in Uganda.

Jane Wacu who is away with club Anse Royale in Seychelles remains a doubt as she has not been included in the training camp squad.
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Kenya women’s 15s rugby team eyes WC after beating Uganda in Elgon Cup

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya rugby teams hope their mixed results will inspire better performance on the return fixtures of the 2019 Elgon Cup even as the women side eyes qualification to the World Cup.

Kenya’s Lionesses easily dispatched Uganda’s She Cranes 42-13 in the first leg in Kisumu but the men’s team Simbas lost narrowly 16-13 to Uganda.

Kenya Lionesses head coach Felix Oloo warned his players to expect tough competition on return leg in Uganda.

"The girls put in an excellent performance.

"However, the race is not over.

"We must finish the job in Uganda and pick the positives," said Oloo.

Despite the recent positive results, the Kenyan women will have to travel to South Africa and beat the rugby superpower on home soil as well as Uganda and Madagascar to book their places at the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand in 2021.

In the men’s Elgon Cup tie, which Africa Rugby is using as part of the Victoria Cup tournament, also has teams from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

"It is not easy for us to lose at home.

"But despite the loss, the performance of the team was fantastic.

"We had nine debutants and some teenagers who fought gallantly," said Paul Odera, the men’s team head coach.

Odera refused to throw in the towel and says Kenya will take their battle to Kampala oozing confidence and hope to turn the screws on their hosts.

However, the coach has called on senior players to show some grit and steel to help the youngsters break into the team and international rugby.

"We need experience ahead of the return leg in Kampala, Uganda next month.

"We will overturn the scores and head to Zimbabwe and Zambia sharper and focused," said the coach.

Simbas captain Peter Kilonzo rued the loss and wants more from his teammates as they head to Kampala on July 13.

"We must tighten our game and play more compact before we head to Kampala where we expect to win," said Kilonzo.

Uganda’s coach Robert Seguya warned his charges that it’s not the end promising that his team will worker 10 times harder in Kampala.

"The game is still open.

"Kenya is wounded but I hope lifting the trophy at home will be an extra motivation for my team.

"The mountain is getting higher and higher which is good for rugby," said Seguya.
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Kenyan World marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge
focuses on INEOS 1:59 Challenge to write history

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge said on Thursday that he has started training in order to be fit to battle the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

This will be the second attempt for the 34-year-old to beat the odds and run the marathon distance in under two hours as the fastest man.

"I think a good career is where you give yourself a challenge every now and then and so I think it is high time for me to try another challenge by beating the two-hour mark," said Kipchoge from Eldoret.

In 2017, Kipchoge missed 26 seconds from his initial attempt to break the two-hour mark as he clocked in two hours and 25 seconds in his "Breaking Two" project on Italy’s Monza motor racing circuit.

Now he has shelved plans to compete at the World Championships or defend his Berlin marathon title to focus on running to break the two-hour mark in a bid sponsored by British manufacturing company INEOS.

It will take place on an unspecified flat loop circuit venue in London, on a date to be decided in October.

"INEOS Challenge is a noble course, it’s a historic challenge where I am going to make history.

"Many ideologies have been said that no human can break the two-hour mark.

"But personally, I have dared to try for the first time and I missed by 26 seconds.

"Now I have a rich experience from Monza and am confident that I will beat the mark because our training program is different from the other training," said Kipchoge.

Indeed, the Olympic champion has had two months of total rest after winning the London marathon in a world record time of 2:01:39.

He has started his training with gym sessions for two weeks in late May and has moved to high altitude training camp in Kaptagat for the full preparation.

"Our training has started again.

"When we finished the season, we have four days of running slowly to recover and then three weeks of total rest and then we start again.

"When your mind is relaxed and fit, the physical part can go on as usual.

"When we start we start at zero and we need three -four month to be fit again for another marathon," said Kipchoge.

His longtime physiotherapist Peter Nduhio, who is now part of INEOS 1:59 Challenge team, said he is amazed by Kipchoge’s ability to remain focused despite challenges in his life.

"Eliud keeps on setting the bar higher.

"Each time he makes us climb the ladder higher.

"His best season was 2018, now he has a new challenge and he will attain it," said Nduhio.

"What makes this challenge inspirational is that it has no template to follow."

           

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