In unwitting twist of fate Team Kenya Paralympics 5000m T11 athletes will battle it out with Japan’s opposition spearheaded by the aptly named Kenya Karasawa.
Rio 2016 bronze medalist Wilson Bii (Guide Robert Tarus and Rodgers Kiprop (guided by Alpha Malinga) will bid to defend the gold medal won by Samwel Mushai Kimani four years ago.
The T11 category is restricted to the visually impaired athletes means the Kenyans may feel the breath of their challenger named after their country, but no see him.
The race will take place at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium Friday at 3:35am (East African time) and 9:35am Tokyo time.
The question is will Kenya deny Kenyans the gold they have won consecutively since Henry Wanyoike set the World and Paralympic Record at the Athens edition in 2004?
Although Team Kenya Paralympics will sorely miss the tenacious Mushai, who was ruled out following a minor operation just before the games, coach Henry Kirwa remained confident of a good show in the wee hours of East African time.
“We have prepared well and I have confidence in the two athletes (Kiprop and Bii) to safely bring home the precious gold,” Kirwa, Kenya’s most decorated medalist of all time having won four gold medals at the Paralympics.
The Kenyans will, however, have to contend with Japan’s Kenya who at 15:09.94 has the best time this season over the distance if it is anything to go by.
On the day Kiprop will be in action at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, Para rower Asiya Mohamed will be in the deep waters, 9km away, fighting for honours at the Sea Forest Waterway in Uminomori island.
Asiya told Standard Sports on Wednesday that she was calm ahead of the group stages of the energy demanding rowing event.
“I am here and what is left is for me to fight to the end,” she said after training at the waterway between the two man-made islands at the mouth of the Sumida River in Tokyo Bay.
“The combined the technique as well as trying to align my body to the new boat because I am weaker on the left side of my body,” said the 29-year-old double amputee, who survived a train accident when she was two-years of age.