NAIROBI, Kenya, February 25 – Kenyan seed Brian Mutua will lead the four-man team that will represent the country in the table tennis qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics at the world singles tournament in Doha, in Qatar, March 14-17. .
Mutua will be joined by Josiah Wandera, Doreen Juma and Lydia Setey who have only been training for a month due to COVID-19 restrictions which put an end to all sporting activities.
The players have been away for a year, training on their own before resuming group training in January. They participated in two two-hour sessions per day under the direction of coach Anthony Mathenge.
The quadruple was chosen from the rankings made in the country and they will be supported by the experience of the team having trained in Germany, Denmark and France.
The players have stated that they will not compete in qualifying as an underdog as they have experience of several international tournaments around the world.
âWe are looking for better results because we have gained experience. But it is high time to show the experience we have gained in other tournaments. It’s a big step and to fight for a big tournament, âsaid Wandera.
The coach denounced the financial challenges which are the biggest obstacle not only to table tennis, but also to many other sports in the country.
âThe partnership with Bomba Lotto (for Kenta Charity Sweepstake) will help a lot of players. We lack a lot of things, expensive equipment. When the money is flowing, we will get this equipment and go to camp early. We are always late due to lack of funds. It is therefore an initiative that I support and I hope that it will help our players, âsaid Mathenge.
âOur main challenge has been finance. Some of us are students and we had to practice, COVID-19 or not COVID-19. You have to spend your own money and yet you don’t have it, âsaid Doreen.
Once all the preparations are done, the players feel they owe the country something and should do better than in previous playoffs.
âMy goal is to go to the final. If I can get a place in the final then it will be good for me because I will feel that I have accomplished something. We will meet international players. We watched their clips and how they train. We know what kind of competition to expect, and it will all come down to game day; how mentally and physically prepared you are and what you can do at this table as directed by the coach, âWandera said.
The number of slots for qualifying in Tokyo will be determined the day before the draw, based on the maximum quota available.