NAIROBI, September 19 – The national Paralympics team received a rousing welcome on their arrival back in the country on Friday following their impressive performance at the Beijing Paralympics.,
A powerful government delegation led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga was on hand to welcome the team at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which for the third time in as many weeks played host to another homecoming ceremony for national athletes.
Kenya enjoyed its best ever performance at the games finishing 27th overall at the games with nine medals which included five gold, three silver and one bronze.
Triple gold medallist Henry Kirwa said that the team’s positive approach to the competition proved to be the major factor in the way they performed adding that they were able to rise to the occasion and deliver despite the stiff competition they faced.
“We went there like it was war though we knew it was just a competition and other athletes were there to win medals but I managed to do my best and win the medals I have now,” said Kirwa.
“I did not think that we would do as well as we did but the support we received from the government and Kenyans at large helped us and we are really thankful for that,” he added.
Odinga congratulated the team for their sterling performance at the games and said that the government will accord the paralympians with resources to help them train adequately for future competition.
“What you did in Beijing has brought great joy to our country and Kenyans are proud of your performance and that you have proved that disability is not inability,” Odinga said to rapturous applause.
“The government will provide you with training facilities right across the country so that you can achieve the same kind of success as able bodied athletes,” he added.
Sports assistant minister and head of delegation Wavinya Ndetei thanked the government for the funds they received from the government and said that her management had held talks with other federations interested in partnering with Kenya.
“I’m pleased to announce that Turkey has agreed to invite and sponsor some our paralympians to their camps,” said Ndetei.
The team was then paraded through the city in a colourful parade giving member sof the public a chance to welcome them back home before retiring to the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
President Mwai Kibaki will host the team at State House Nairobi on Saturday where medalists will receive their rewards from the government.
They together with the Olympics team will be feted by Rift Valley Members of Parliament in the province on October 4.
Kenya’s sole bronze medallist in the 5000m T-11 Henry Wanyoike was not amongst the entourage.