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Kenya upbeat for medals in Asaba 2018 African Championships

The Kenyan contingent marches during the opening of African Athletics Championship at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba

The Kenyan contingent marches during the opening of African Athletics Championship at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba

Team Kenya is eyeing to top the tally of the 2018 African Championships in Athletics (ACA) in Asaba, Nigeria despite some delayed action on Wednesday.

The distance running powerhouse last topped the medal charts at their home event in Nairobi 2010 where they bagged 10 gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals to finish ahead of Nigeria and South Africa.

Despite falling victims to the travel chaos that saw the team stranded for 48 hours at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos before finally arriving at the Delta State city on Wednesday afternoon, the East African nation has set sights on dominating the biannual track and field showpiece.

“We are here to compete and win as many medals as possible despite the hiccups here and there, which is normal and it happens with a lot of people coming to Nigeria,” Kenya Team Manager, Abraham Mutai said upon arrival in Asaba.

“We are still focused to taking all the medals, this is a big team from Kenya, we are almost a team of 90 with around 65 athletes and we are ready. As a Team Leader, I’m ready, keeping my team together and focused on what we came to do here,” he added.

The country will be seeking to open their medal account in the men’s 10,000m final on the opening day later Wednesday that organisers reduced to only three events following the travel disorder that delayed the arrival of participating teams.

Reigning world and Commonwealth champions, Elijah Manangoi (men’s 1,500m) and Hellen Obiri (women’s 5,000m) lead a loaded cast of 61 Kenyan athletes that includes past and current world-beaters.

Among others to watch include Beijing 2015 world champions, Julius Yego (men’s Javelin) and Nicholas Bett (men’s 400m Hurdles) as well as London 2017 World Championships silver winner, Timothy Cheruiyot (men’s 1,500m) who is the fastest runner at his distance in the world this year.

“Team Kenya, welcome to Asaba Delta State. Let us take everything in our stride with our usual humility. Good luck and God bless,” Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei said in an earlier statement to the athletes upon their arrival in Asaba.

Kenya finished third at the last edition of the event, Marrakech 2014 in Morocco behind South Africa and Nigeria with seven gold, eight silver and 10 bronze medals.

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