NAIROBI, September 17 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga will lead the welcome party for the victorious national Paralympics team which jets back from Beijing on Friday.
He will be on hand to receive the team at the airport after which they will be driven in a convoy through the city before stopping at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani where they will spend the night.
The triumphant athletes will then meet President Mwai Kibaki at State House on Saturday where he will give out cash rewards to the medallists and finalists.
A statement by minister for sports Hellen Sambili reaffirmed the government’s commitment to rewarding the paralympians in the same way they able bodied athletes were rewarded following their heroics in Beijing.
“The government believes in fair treatment of it citizens irrespective of their challenges, particularly when they are involved in national duty. The perception by some quarters that the Paralympics team would be treated otherwise is wrong and misleading,” read the statement.
Able bodied gold medallists received Sh2.3 million each while silver medallists got Sh1.2 million while bronze medallists pocketed Sh780,000.
The Paralympics team posted its best ever performances at the games winning five gold medals four silver and three bronze to finish 27th in the overall standings and third in Africa.
Henry Kiprono Kirwa set the pace claiming three gold medals in an awesome display of middle and long distance running.
The 35 year old won the men’s 5,000 T13 gold medal last week to open his account in Beijing setting a new world record of 14:24.02 along the way.
A gold in the ,en’s 1500 metres followed on Saturday morning and he then topped it with a new Paralympics record of 31:42.97 minutes to win his third gold on Sunday in the 10,000m T12 becoming Kenya’s most successful Paralympian at a single event.
Double All Africa Games Champion Abraham Tarbei opened Kenya’s gold account on Wednesday when set a new world record on his way to winning gold in the men’s 1500 metres T46 class.
The 21 year old athlete set a new world best time of 3:52.50 to win the race and gave Kenya her first gold medal of the Games.
Blind athlete Francis Thuo had won Kenya’s first medal at the games last Tuesday afternoon when he won silver in the men’s 5,000 metres T11 category.
Other silver medallists include Samwel Mushai and Mary Nakhumicha in javelin.
Defending champion and World record holder Henry Wanyoike won the only bronze.
Beijing’s performance was a huge improvement from the last edition in 2004 Athens where they finished 41st position overall with one gold medal, 4 silver and two bronze.