Kenya confident despite no shows

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NAIROBI, September 29- Kenya may have been hit by a series of athletes' withdrawals for the Commonwealth Games, but officials maintain that the final 136-member contingent will perform up to expectations.Janet Jepkosgei, the defending women’s 1,500m champion from Melbourne four years ago was the latest star runner to pull out of the Delhi meet, where Kenyan expects its biggest haul of medals in the track and field sphere.

Kenyan athletes have swept all the major championships titles in 2010, starting with the World Cross Country championships in Poland in March, the World junior championships in Canada and the African championships in Nairobi in August and top honours in the Indian capital would cap the most successful athletics season for many years.

Delhi is also seen as a harbinger for the 2012 London Olympics.

Sports Minister Paul Otuoma has urged his country’s athletes to use the Commonwealth Games as a build-up for the Olympics in two years time.

"Delhi will be a glimpse of what to expect in London in 2012. You must keep the momentum because Kenya is on a roll," he told the athletes during the inauguration of a residential training camp in Nairobi.

Kenya is also keeping an eye on its successful rugby sevens team, which reached the semi-finals of the IRB World series in 2009, and the boxing and swimming teams to deliver medals during the two-week long Games.

The 10-member swimming squad, which warmed up for the Dehli championships with a fourth-place finish at the African championships in Morocco, is being lead by brothers, David and Jason Dunford.

The 23-year-old Jason, the eldest of the two, who won two gold medals in Morocco, will compete in both the 100m freestyle and butterfly, where he posted a new Olympic games record in Beijing in 2008 before going on to finish a remarkable fifth behind American swimmer Michael Phelps in the final.

Younger brother David, a finalist in the 50 metres sprint freestyle in the Melbourne games in 2006, will compete in the 100m and 200m breaststroke.

Kenya has achieved moderate success in the boxing ring at the Commonwealth Games in recent years, but this time the country is looking to improve on the three bronze medals earned in Melbourne four years ago by fielding a full ten-man squad for the Delhi games.

The Kenya Amateur Boxing Association intensified their seriousness to get back on track by acquiring a computer scorer to help the boxers, who have fallen foul of the electronic technology requirement in previous competitions.

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