Topping the world is a huge act to follow but Team Kenya’s class to the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville have a winning template from their counterparts who stormed to the top of the charts in Beijing.
The afterglow from the glorious harvest from the IAAF World Championships in the Chinese capital continues being felt across the nation and the team to Congo heads for the quadrennial Pan African Games with wind in their sails.
Kenya will be looking to do better than in Mozambique four years ago where they finished sixth with 50 medals including 14 golds. The country has sent 17 disciplines including athletics, badminton, boxing (men), cycling, handball, judo, karate, lawn tennis, rugby sevens (men), swimming, table tennis, tae-kwon-do, volleyball (women), beach volleyball, weight lifting, wrestling and Paralympics sports (men and women).
Athletics will once again be the medal basket with the team expected to do much better than in 2011 when they won only five gold medals on the track and roads. The biggest ask will be to reclaim the steeplechase gold medal surrendered to Ethiopia.
Olympics bronze medallist, Abel Mutai, will lead Hillary Kemboi and Clement Kemboi in the battle to reclaim that medal. Thomas Longosiwa, Isaiah Koech and Joseph Kiplimo will line up in the men’s 5,000metres while in the walk, African champion and record holder, Grace Wanjiru will look to add onto her glowing list of accolades in the women’s 20km race.
Alex Kiprotich and Nelson Yego will look to succeed outgoing champion Julius Yego in the men’s javelin. Former World Cross Country Junior silver medallist Leonard Barsoton will lead a strong team in the 10,000m while Joyce Chepkirui will be the one to watch in the women’s race.
The Paralympic sports team delivered five gold medals last time out and will again be sure bet for success. Swimming gave Kenya three gold medals in 2011 but the absence of the Dunford brothers—Jason and David—means it will be much tougher for the squad in Brazzaville.