Team Kenya launch their campaign for medals today at the Rio Paralympics athletics programme gets underway today.
As intimated earlier by the Kenya National Paralympics Committee president Agnes Oluoch, the team targets to reap at least nine medals. “Athletes are not just eyeing just any medal but gold as they also chase for records,” she said. In 2012 London Paralympic Games, Kenya won six medals.
Kenya’s class T.11 (the totally blind) trio of Wilson Bii, Samuel Mushai and Erick Sang, and, T.12 sprinter Henry Nzungi will open the show on today in the 5,000m and 400m races respectively.
The three T.11 athletes are fired up to stage a Kenyan podium sweep as they seek to break the world record in the event held by fellow Kenyan Henry Wanyoike, who is the Paralympics distance running legend. Wanyoike set the 5,000m paralympics world record of 15:11.07 on September 4 in Athens, Greece. The three 5,000m runners will also compete in the 1,500m T.11 race.
While Team Kenya looks for medal sweep through Bii, Sang and overall captain Mushai in both events, they have to ward off tough opposition from Odiar Santos of Brazil who races in both 5,000m and 1,500m. In 5,000m, Santos recently posted 15:16.82 at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Rio de Jeneiro in May to edge closer to Wanyoike’s world record.
On the other hand, Mushai only ran at the 2016 IPC Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai in March, and won gold medal after clocking 15.49.00, and the Rio event will be his second this season. Sang clocked 16:25.2 at the IPC International meet in Marakesh, Morocco in May as Bii had 15:27.00 in Tunisia IPC International meet.
As 1,500m T.11 IPC world record holder Mushai seeks to defend his 3:58.37 set in the London 2012 Paralympics, compatriots Sang and Bii, together with Santos will be racing to beat both Mushai and the record. The captain will also revive the 1,500m rivalry between himself and Santos. Whereas Mushai beat Santos to the second place in London, the latter had defeated him at the OPC World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011.