Youth team beam with confidence ahead of departure for North Africa

Team Kenya to the third edition of the Africa Youth Games scheduled to take place from July 18-28 in Algeria leave the country tentatively on Sunday July 15 for Algiers where they will compete in five disciplines.

The more than 50 athletes aged between 14 and 18 years were selected during the Kenya Secondary Schools and Primary Schools Term One games held in April and have been undergoing further training from their respective school coaches for the last two months before coming together this week for residential training.

The selected teams that include 26 participants in athletics, two beach volleyball teams, nine hockey players, four tennis players and as many taking part in swimming, started their residential training on Monday for the continental show piece which will double as a Cup qualifiers for a number of disciplines to the Youth Olympics Games, which will be held later this year in Argentina.

In athletics, 10 of the 26 athletes took part in the Eastern Africa Youth Championships a fortnight ago in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where they lived up to their billing as they clinched the overall team prize after bagging eight gold medals, two silver and two bronze.

“The athletics team is very well prepared and having tested some of them in the East Africa Championship, we are confident the team will do well. We expect more medals from the group than we achieved in the 2014 edition.

Two more athletes are in Finland for the World Under 20 championship and will join the rest in Algeria.

The athletes are spread across field events and track events with the exception of hammer, pole vault and walking race,” said athletics head coach Barnaba Kitilit.

Kitilit says that he has confidence in the team performing well despite having little time to train together as they have had a chance to compare their times with those set by their peers in the World Under 20 team and the differences are minimal if any.

He, however, says that when they have to work on the technical aspects of the races before flying out to Algeria since it will be the first time for some of the athletes to compete on that stage.

In hockey, head coach Kevin Lugalia says that the team has adapted well to the five-a-side format of play that will be used in Algeria and feels confident that the side will improve on their predecessor’s third place finish in 2014.

“We are going for nothing short of gold. We are aware of the competition we will be facing, including Zambia and South Africa who made it to the finals in 2014, but I am confident we will finish in a better position,” said Lugalia.

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