By Ayumba Ayodi
The national triathlon team is out to win surprise medals on their maiden appearance at the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games, which start on July 23 to August 3 in Glasgow, Scotland.
It’s the 21-year-old Swaleh Abdulnasser Balala, who will lead Kenya’s triathlon team of four made up of two men and two women. Balala will team up with Vincent Ochieng in the men’s team, while Jessie Emma De Boer will link up with Hellen Kinuthia in the women’s competition.
The experienced Balala finished sixth at the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique and was placed 24th at the 2009 All Africa Triathlon Championships but improved to sixth in 2012 before finishing second at the 2014 Africa and Pan Arabian International in Egypt in March.
“I know the kind of opposition we shall face in Glasgow but I hope to break into the medal bracket,” said Balala, who started preparing for the Commonwealth Games in December last year. “Those who have dominated at the Olympics and World Championships come from the Commonwealth region,” added Balala.
Balala expressed optimism that the government and local companies will one day treat all sports equally. “I have sponsored myself to all the international events since 2008,” said Balala.
The 28-year-old Ochieng, who finished 38th at the Duathlon World Championships last month in Spain, said he is hoping for the best at the Club Games that will be his first major Triathlon event.
“I know we shall brush shoulders with Olympic medallists but I am up for experience, this being my top event in the sport,” said Ochieng.
While Duathlon involves cycling and sprinting, triathlon features swimming, cycling and sprinting.
De Boer, who only took up triathlon in February this year before going on to win two national trials events, is optimistic of a good performance in Glasgow.
“I am excited since I have learnt so many things in camp and I hope to do my best and for my brother who has been a major inspiration,” said De Boer, a sister to Enduro National champion Allan De Boer. “My brother, who is a sports psychologist, has tought me a lot about nutrition.”
Even though she is good in swimming and running, De Boer wants to further refine her cycling skills that is her weak link. “It’s tough doing several things at a go but all will be well and just want to do Kenya proud.”
Head coach Salonik Ole Koyiet said he expects a medal from Balala owing to his consistency and his hunger for medals.
“Balala has been consistent while Ochieng’s performance at the World Duathlon should spur up something,” Koyiet said.
“I am looking at the girls finish strong too.” Read more
Courtesy of nation.co.ke