The Kenya National Paralympic Committee will today hold trials at Steel City Gym, Nairobi to select the team to represent the country at the upcoming World Para Powerlifting qualifying series.
The series, consisting of five tournaments across five different cities worldwide, will provide powerlifters with an opportunity to grab tickets to the rescheduled Tokyo Paralympics.
“Everyone who is interested has been invited to try out for an opportunity to be selected for the qualifiers. So far, eight athletes have confirmed participation and we expect to begin at 8 or 10 am latest,” Dennis Muga, national team coach, said.
Muga said the target is to take at least six athletes to the qualification tournaments, which will kick off in Bogota, Colombia on March 5-8.
“We already have one (Hellen Wawira) who has qualified by virtue of being ranked among the top eight in her weight category. There are also three more (Gabriel Magu, Joyce Njuguna and Jeremiah Mariga) who have a high chance of qualifying because their ranking is not so low and can improve with a bit more good performances,” Muga said.
However, he lamented the challenges the powerlifters have encountered in their training due to the Covid-19 restrictions and subsequent impact.
“Some of our athletes have been training alone. Others like Hellen had to go back home because of the pandemic and have been training from there. Initially, we used to train at a gym at Nyayo Stadium for free but now we have had to pay for the gym we are currently using,” he said.
At the same time, KNPC president Agnes Oluoch expressed optimism that the final team selected will do the country proud at the Paralympics, set for August 24-September 5.
“Yes indeed, we plan to send a team to all the five qualification tournaments. Our target is to take at least two powerlifters to Tokyo considering the stiff competition expect in Tokyo,” Oluoch said.
After Bogota, attention shifts to Manchester, Great Britain for the next qualifieron March 25-28.
Pattaya, Thailand will be host to the next round of qualification on May 6-9 before the athletes congregate in Tbilisi, Georgia three weeks later for the penultimate round.
The Dubai Fazza qualifier on June 19-26 will be the final chance for aspiring paralympians to grace the grandest stage of their sporting careers.
Last year’s qualifiers were held in Abuja (Nigeria) and Manchester before the coronavirus pandemic halted all sporting activities globally.