Nairobi (Kenya) Feb 26: Kenya has named four paddlers to vie for the Tokyo Olympic berths at the World Singles Qualification tournament that runs from March 14-17 in Doha, Qatar.
Brian Mutua, Josiah Wandera, Doreen Juma, and Lydia Setey are training as a group for only a month due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
The quartet has been out of action for a year, training on their own before resuming group training in January, with two sessions of two hours a day under Coach Anthony Mathenge.
"We are used to more because when we used to train at our clubs, we used to train the whole day. So, two training sessions in a day is manageable," Wandera said on Thursday.
He noted that they would not go to Doha as underdogs.
"It is high time that we show the experience we have been getting from other tournaments. This is a very big stage, and fighting to go for a very big tournament," Wandera added.
Mathenge rued the lost time caused by the global pandemic lockdown but backed the four, who were selected due to national rankings, to give qualification a good go.
"The experience in the team is massive, with the players having trained in Germany, Denmark, and France," he noted.
Besides the pandemic, the team has been beset by financial challenges that have forced the players to dig into their own pockets to honor their obligations.
"Some of us are students and we had to train, COVID-19 or no COVID-19. You have to spend your own money and yet you don't have it," Juma lamented.
The team is set to benefit from funds accruing from a partnership between the National Olympic Committee of Kenya and a local lottery firm.
The number of slots for qualification to Tokyo will be determined the day before the draw is made, depending on the maximum available quota.
The draw for the first stage of the Qatar qualifiers will be done on March 13.
Source: Xinhua