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Congo-bound runners to finally depart

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Nicholas Bett reacts after winning the men 400m Hurdles gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Beijing. PHOTO/IAAF/Getty

Nicholas Bett reacts after winning the men 400m Hurdles gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Beijing. PHOTO/IAAF/Getty

NAIROBI, September 9- Team Kenya athletes for the 11th African Games depart for Congo Brazzaville at noon, Thursday to launch the pursuit for glory in sprint, distance and field events.

Athletics Kenya vice-president, David Okeyo, told Capital Sport their departure was delayed when national carrier, Kenya Airways, offered to provide a larger aircraft to felly the runners in one group.

The athletes were initially due to leave in two batches but after consultation between the Sports Ministry and AK, it was deemed convenient to postpone the departure.

“They will have two and a half days to acclimatize to the conditions in Congo Brazzaville and the weather there is not much different from what we have here.

“Therefore, we saw no problem with them going tomorrow (Thursday),” Okeyo told.

Kenya will be represented in sprints, distance and field events by the team that is aiming to emulate their world conquering counterparts at the Beijing Worlds.

He was reacting to reports the team had been driven to the airport at 4am Wednesday to board a non-existent flight that circulated widely on social media throughout the day.

“I don’t know what the aim of these reports is, they are not true. No athlete was taken to the airport, they all remained in camp throughout the day,” Okeyo who was nominated by Africa to become an IAAF Council Member claimed.

He further discounted allegations the team had gone on strike to demand payment of their allowances before leaving for the quadrennial Pan African games that are sponsored by the African Union.

“The officials took off and are in Brazzaville; they abandoned us and hope we will link up with them there without us receiving our training allowances. It is unfair and we want government officials to come here and explain to us why they have not paid their part of the bargain,” an athlete in camp told Xinhua on Tuesday.

“Athletes have trained but their morale is down. Nobody has been paid any allowance and it is starting to get into their minds ahead of our departure on Tuesday. Athletics competition starts on Sept. 13 and we need to be in right shape for the championships,” the team’s coach, Samson Katam added.

Newly-coined World 400m Hurdles champion, Nicholas Bett is among those from the conquering Beijing team lined-up for the Brazzaville medal pursuit.

Other notable athletes in the quality squad include World Cross champion, Agnes Tirop (women 10000m), Commonwealth titleholder, James Magut (men 1500m), Beijing Olympics bronze winner, Thomas Longosiwa (men 5000m) and 2010 African silver medallist, Vincent Yator (men 10000m).

Africa Games squad

MEN: 100M: Mike Mokamba; 200m: Mike Mokamba, Carvin Nkanata; 400m: Boniface Mweresa, Raymond Kibet, Alex Sampao; 800m: Jackson Kivuva, Job Kinyor, Jonathan Kitilit; 1500m: Timothy Cheruiyot, Ronald Kwemoi, James Magut; 5000m: Thomas Longosiwa, Joseph Kiplimo; 10000m: Vincent Yator, Leonard Barsoton, Geoffrey Kirui; 400m Hurdles: Kiprono Kosgei, Willy Mbevi, Geoffrey Kipkoech;3000m steeplechase: Abel Mutai, Clement Kemboi, Hilary Kemboi; Relay 4X100m; Mike Mokamba, Mark Otieno, Tony Chirchir, Gilbert Otieno; Decathlon: Elijah Chesoen, Vincent Tarus, Girlbert Koech; High Jump: Mathew Sawe; Javelin: Alex Kiprotich; 20km Walk: Samuel Kereri, Simon Wachira, David Kimutai.

WOMEN: 100m: Eunice Kadogo; 400m: Jesica Shikanda, Maureen Thomas; 800m: Aneth Mwanzi, Sylvia Chesebe, Winnie Chebet; 1500m: Beatrice Chepkoech, Caroline Chepkemoi, Winfred Mbithe; 5000m: Margaret Jelimo, Alice Aprot; 10000m: Joyce Chepkurui, Gladys Chesri, Agnes Tirop; 4x100m: Kadogo, Millicent Ndoro, Fresher Mwangi, Maureen Thomas; 100m Hurdles: Priscilla Tabuda, Florence Wasike, Caroline Waiganjo; 400m Hurdles: Fransica Koki; 3000m Steeplechase women: Purity Cherotich, Magdalene Masai, Joan Jepkemoi; Heptathlon: Priscilla Tabuda, Jackline Jeruto; Hammer: Rebbeca Kerubo; 20km Walk: Grace Wanjiru, Grace Thoiti, Judith Cherop.

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