Curtains fell on the 14th edition of Brookside East Africa Secondary School Games in Huye, Rwanda after an intense week-long of thrills and spills in various disciplines that saw Kenya uphold its reputation by winning the overall title with a haul of nine gold 11 silver and seven bronze.
Just like the previous edition Uganda came in second (six gold, nine silver, eight bronze) hosts Rwanda third (six gold, two silver, five bronze), Burundi fourth (two gold, three bronze) as Tanzania slumped to the last position (one silver) following a lacklustre show in the seven days showpiece in Rwanda.
However, if the challenge Kenyans faced in the championship is anything to go by, Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) has with immediate urgency to go back to its drawing board if it hopes to survive an impending ouster as the East Africa schools games powerhouse.
Arguably, it was swimming that saved Kenya’s face being the only discipline that Kenyans easily outshone other opponents as opposed to athletics which has always been the fulcrum for the country’s enviable performance in the games.
Burundi and Uganda gave Kenyan athletes a run for their money in long races, a result that might herald new rivals for Kenya in future within the region apart from Ethiopia as short races sprinters defied tradition to come in handy to salvage what was a perilous show.
Uganda was ranked the best overall girls athletics team sharing spoils with Kenya who bagged the overall best athletics boys team award as Burundi carried home gold medals in 800m, 5,000m and 10,000m, races that have been for long time considered Kenya’s preserve.
On the other hand ball games competition was hard hit after 8 Kenyan teams that had qualified for finals in various disciplines failed to clinch the most coveted top medal with only three teams carrying home trophies as six others were forced to contend as silver medallists.
Laiser Hill were crowned the new champions in rugby 15s a title that was previously held by Maseno School as Sinyolo girls retained their girls trophy in hockey before St Anthony’s bagged the boys hockey silverware.
Kenya had fronted teams in volleyball boys final where national defending champions Malava Boys were caged 3-1 by Rwandan side Rusumo and volleyball girls that saw regional defending champions Kwanthanze Girls dethroned by Rwanda’s GS Indangaburezi 3-2 in a pulsating final.
Rwanda’s scoop did not come as shock thanks to the services of experienced Kenya coach Paul Bitok with frequent exposure of the Rwandan teams to international volleyball tournaments including the recent world championship.
“Our opponents have better structures in place for volleyball development and the result of their prior and proper organization has caught up with us today. We have learnt our lessons and hope to live and fight another day,” said Shadrack Tovoko Malava boys coach.