A battery of Kenyan young athletes departs for Kigali, Rwanda, optimistic to rule the roost at the inaugural Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) Youth games, which starts on April 2.
The competitions, designed for youngsters aged between 16 and 18, will see around 350 athletes vying for medals in different sports.
Kenya will have over 30 athletes in track and field alongside entering those competing in 3×3 basketball, taekwondo, beach volleyball, athletics and cycling.
Francis Mutuku, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) said the country hoped to make a major statement in the elementary games, which aimed at introducing the athletes to the Olympic spirit.
“We have a strong team, especially in athletics, who are eager to go on and conquer the east Africa zone. The competition will grow to cover the entire Africa soon,” he said on Monday in Nairobi.
Alongside Kenya, there will be competitors from Tanzania, Burundi, Somalia, Eritrea, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sudan and hosts Rwanda as well as France, who will compete as guest nation.
The Games will be held in Huye town, in southern Rwanda. On Sunday, all the 350 athletes and officials will join Rwandans in a walk in Kigali in commemoration of the 1994 Genocide.
The 2018 Youth Olympics 3,000-meter champion Jackson Kavesa has been named Kenya team captain and hopes to lead from the front.
“I relish the challenge because Kenyans are always ahead of the pack. But it is down to training. We have had good preparations as team Kenya and we are set to win the overall maiden title. After a good 2018 show, I want to kick start my year in this championship and I am eyeing the cross country title,” said Kavesa.
Sprinter Brian Tinega (100m), James Mwanzia (1,500m) and Pesi Leshoo (800m) are all looking up the event as part of their preparations ahead of the Africa Under-18 Championships, which will be held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in two weeks’ time.
The event organizers, ANOCA, hope that in future the multi-disciplinary competitions will serve as qualifiers to Africa Youth Games. Enditem