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Kenyans arrive in Botswana keen to impress in African Youth games

17 May 2014, 17:00

Nairobi -The Kenyan team left and arrived in Gaborone Botswana Friday, hopeful of an improved performance as they target to use the African Youth Games as build-up for the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China in July.

As usual, track and field will be at the centre stage as it hunts for medals. Team leader and Coach Japheth Kemei said the squad is better than the 2010 team, which won 13 medals to finish fourth after hosts Morocco, South Africa and Ethiopia. The African Youth Games starts on May 22-31.

"The team is stronger and better prepared. We are taking this event seriously unlike the inaugural edition where there was nothing at stake for the winners.

"In Gaborone, the IAAF will be using it as a qualifier to the Youth Olympics in China and we must be at our best to get maximum slots available," Kemei told Xinhua in Nairobi.

Medal hopeful include experienced Rosefline Chepgetich and Winfred Mbithe who have been at the World Youth Championships before.

The contingent is of 128 athletes (54 in track and field), which is double the number of athletes that represented in the inaugural African Youth Games in Rabat, Morocco, in 2010.

The second African Youth Games have attracted over 50 countries and will be tough championships as more countries acknowledge the importance. The competition is open to athletes who are 17 years or younger.

Kenya's overall team manager Antony Kariuki said,"The team is strong and we have high expectations from them. In fact three disciplines -- athletics, swimming and boxing -- will be seeking qualifications to the second Olympic Youth Games in China in August. We are also building a team for the future."

The second batch that comprises 25 athletes and seven officials will depart Saturday for Gaborone. They include volleyball, judo, basketball, and rugby.

In 2010, Kenya sent athletes in disciplines to Morocco and bagged 16 medals. They included a lone gold medal from William Mutunga Mbevi in 400m hurdles and 10 silver medals.

- Xinhua

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