The long wait is over and it’s all systems go as four Kenya team players prepare to fight for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games slots at the ultramodern Olympique Stade De Rades multipurpose gymnasium in Tunis on Thursday, February 28.
A total of 10 African players have a chance of boarding the plane to Tokyo after the three-day competition which culminates on Saturday.
Four men and a similar number of women will make it to Tokyo Olympics should they reach the semis in both singles. The mixed doubles will qualify two more players from the winning county.
Kenya will field two men and two women namely Brian Mutua, Josiah Wandera, Doreen Juma and Lydia Setey.
The team, being handled by Kennedy Otieno Kojal aka Lotti, has four players who made part of the Kenya team to the All African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
Doreen, a Bachelor of Arts (psychology) student at Kenya University exuded confidence despite the tough opposition anticipated from the north and west of the continent.
“We are not ruling out a go at the Tokyo Games, but the reality of the matter is that most of our ping adversaries in Tunis ply their trades overseas as professionals. Nevertheless, we will try to give it our all in the Qualifiers,” said Doreen.
Rising star Brian Mutua was among the sixteenth players who graced the three-day ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup which culminated on Wednesday and will lead the charge for Team Kenya at the subsequent Qualifiers. He finished 16th overall in the star-studded continental extravaganza, an equivalent of the Africa Cup of Nations in football.
“I am hoping to minimize on the many mistakes I made in the Top 16. I tend to make errors while trying to attack instead of being consistent. I need to do a lot more on multiple balls and more physical training to be able to reach out to the balls easily,” Mutua.
Kenya’s mixed doubles team will comprise of Mutua and Doreen Juma.
Among those fighting for an Olympic ticket in mixed doubles is Nigerian legend Segun Toriola who jetted in Tunis on Tuesday.
Segun who had a short coaching stint in Kenya will partner up with Olufunke Oshonaike who competed for Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Segun has represented Nigeria at seven Summer Olympics debuting at Barcelona. His biggest achievement at the Olympics has been reaching the Men’s Singles round of final at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, beating amongst others former world number 1 Jean-Michel Saive as well as David Zhuang.