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October 20, 2017

I will not give up, swimmer Rebecca Kamau says after Rio exclusion

A file photo of swimmer Rebecca Kamau.
A file photo of swimmer Rebecca Kamau.

Kenyan Swimmer Rebecca Kamau has spoken for the first time since her omission from the Kenya team that will take part in the Rio Olympics.

Kamau, 16, and Issa Abdalla were not selected to represent Kenya, a decision which has angered swimming stakeholders in the country.

Becky, as she is commonly known among friends, spoke to the Star from the United Kingdom.

She narrated her frustration after receiving an email notifying her that she would not be representing Kenya.

“At first it was very shocking. It was almost like a sure thing because I had been working hard," she said.

"Getting such a cold email was heartbreaking, I cried a lot... You feel like everything you’ve been working hard for is lost and you don’t know what you are working towards."

Efforts to have the decision against Becky and Abdalla's participation, which included Sports CS Hassan Wario's intervention, did not bear fruit.

Wario ordered the National Olympics committee to write to FINA requesting the names of Hamdan Bayusuf and Talisa Lanoe replaced with Becky and Abdalla's.

This was not done as the deadline for submitting names had passed and the two other names approved.

Becky's father Kiriru Kamau who was vocal during the selection revealed his daughter would not be travelling to Rio on his Facebook page.

The swimmer who is currently taking part in the British nationals said she eventually accepted the decision. She said she will not give up swimming for Kenya.

“I was born in Kenya, I don’t want to let them win. Hopefully things will change and the current office will leave. I don’t want to walk away; Rio is not the last competition,” she said

“My next target is the Tokyo Olympics in Japan. I will be picking up there. I will be 20; the best possible age. I will be more experienced, so I will most definitely be there."

Becky has not had the best relationship with the Kenya Swimming Federation since she started swimming.

She was quick to point out that she has been excluded from competitions as her father has questioned operations at the federation.

“As a seven-year-old swimmer I was punished and given the wrong positions. From then on I did not have a good relationship with the federation," she said.

"I moved to England, which I think was good and then excelled, but they sort of excluded me much more and It was only in common wealth games. I started swimming for Kenya again."

Becky was optimistic that things will change for the sake of all swimmers in the country and that they will be selected for international competitions based on merit.

She believes her experience can help steer change at the federation. She urged her counterparts not to give up.

Becky dismissed KSF’s report suggesting she declined to travel for the FINA championship in Kazan, Russia.

The federation said she was offered a chance to go to Kazan but opted for Singapore. But the swimmer said she was only told about Kazan after she had planned for Singapore.

She said she would have gone to Russia had she been informed in good time.

Becky said she harboured no ill feelings for the two swimmers who will go to Rio as they are not to blame for the federation's decisions.

She said she was confident they would do Kenya proud.

"I wish them the best. It’s not their fault... it’s just the politics. I’m sure they will swim well but it is unfortunate this painted them in bad light. The federation is to blame," she said.

In the British nationals she will compete in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and two relays:  the 4x200m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle.  

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