NAIROBI, Kenya, July 8 – For seven years, they have dominated Kenya swimming competitions giving fans new imagination of the country widening its medal scope at major championships.
But for the first time, Kenya will be heading to Barcelona, Spain for the FINA World Championships without the famed Jason Dunford and his brother David Dunford. The championships will run from July 22 to Aug. 4.
“We have to come up with a strong team for the championships. It is true, the two have curved a niche for themselves in the sport, especially from Kenya, but swimming is bigger than the two and the country must move on,” Kenya Swimming Federation (KSF) treasurer David Ngugi said on Monday.
Jason and David have opted to skip the World Championships to concentrate on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year in Scotland.
In the absence of the duo, Kenya hopes will be pegged on youngsters Silvia Brunlehner, Emily Muteti and Hamdan Bayusuf, who gained entry to the event via wild card. The trio are all from Mombasa.
Ngugi, however, pointed out that, it is not about Kenya winning medals at the World Championships, but for the team of youngsters to gain the experience and big stage performance that will go a long way in preparing the country for both Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The Dunford sibling have been outstanding on global stage ever since they won Kenya first international medal(s) in 2006 Dakar African Swimming Championships.
The two brothers have recorded several firsts like being the first to represent Kenya at Olympics and World Championships. No any other local swimmer has ever come close to matching the achievements of the Dunfords.
This gives swimming enthusiasts solid reasons to worry about post-Dunfords era in Kenyan swimming.
The performance of Brunlehner, Muteti and Bayusuf in recent continental event in Zambia places them among swimmers eyeing to fit into the shoes of the siblings.
They were among 36 swimmers who reaped a total of 26 gold, 26 silver and 28 bronze medals during African Championships Zone Three and Four held in Zambia last April.
Bayusuf bagged 10 medals among them eight gold and two bronze while Muteti managed seven gold and three bronze medals.
Kenya is now focusing on long term planning to bridge the gap between the Dunford and other upcoming swimmers. Ngugi said a lot need be done to develop the swimmers.
“The first step in development of any sport is availability of standard facilities,” he said. “The government must standard pools in new stadia they promised to develop around the country for our swimming to do well.”