ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing Kenya athletes during 2021 Athletics Kenya Olympic Trials [PHOTO COURTESY]

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Saturday joined the athletics fraternity in cheering Kenya’s teams for the 2021 Athletics Kenya Olympic Trials at the Moi International Sports Centre-Kasarani.

The trials were the third and final day of competition as the country’s world-renown athletes battled out for the top spots to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Kenya unveiled its Tokyo Olympics squad with a list of more than 40 athletes including world champion Hellen Obiri and defending 1,500m Olympic gold medallist Faith Chepngetich.

Team Kenya plans to fly out to Japan on July 5th to set up camp in Kurume for the Games which start on July 23.

Raila, who was the chief guest at the national trials in Kasarani Stadium, told the athletes to continue making Kenyans proud as he thanked the Japanese government for hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

“I want to thank our athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and I would also like to thank Japan’s government efforts to host the Olympics amid covid-19 concerns,” he told the athletes.

“When it comes to other sports, other countries do better than us (Kenya) but when it comes to the Olympics, the African continent looks towards Kenya and Ethiopia to represent them. We are certain you will make us proud. We wish you success.”

He also urged the athletes to follow in the footsteps of Kenya’s great athletes.

“The first Kenyan to win an Olympic Gold medal was in Tokyo, Wilson Kiprugut in 800m, the first Kenyan to win Gold in 10,000m race was Naftali Temu, but this time we look forward to seeing Geoffrey Kamworor do what Naftali Temu did 53 years ago.

KDF’s Hellen Obiri, winner of Women 10000m in the national trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games at The Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“In the sprint, Kenya has been absent but in 1964 in Tokyo Olympics Kenya was represented by Seraphino Antao and John Owiti. Again in 1996 in Atlanta Kenya was represented by Kennedy Ochieng.

“Today, we have Ferdinand Omanyala alongside Mark Otieno who will be representing Kenya in the 100m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

 “We have World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Bridget Kosgei who are also going to represent us in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

He also paid tribute to great women athletes who include Susan Sirma, Catherine Ndereba, Tegla Chepkite Loroupe and Pamela Jelimo.

“We are wishing all the best to the athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. They are going to come back with medals,” he added.

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