Kenya aims to send 100 athletes to Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 20: The Olympic rings are seen in front of Tokyo's iconic Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower at Odaiba Marine Park on January 20, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JANUARY 21: A detail exterior view of Tokyo Aquatics Centre, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games venue on November 21, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. on January 21, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Kenyan Olympic chief Paul Tergat is optimistic that the country will achieve its goal of sending more than 100 athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kenya had 89 athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil and NOCK president Tergat feels the country’s top athletes are good enough to make it through the rigorous continental qualifiers and on to Tokyo.

Volleyball and rugby teams have boosted the record of disciplines the country will take to Japan, pushing the number closer to its target.

Tergat said in Nairobi on Monday evening that Kenya still has high chances of seeing its athletes make it in fencing, bowling, softball, judo, wrestling, and shooting.

The country has set aside 12 million shillings (120,000 U.S. dollars) to help the remaining 20 federations to qualify for the Olympics.

“We understand that some of our federations have been struggling financially so as a committee, we have decided to step in with some little financial assistance,” Tergat said.

“We have been working round the clock to see that more sports federations qualify for the Olympics.”

Kenya won 13 medals in Rio – six gold, six silver and one bronze, a target which Tergat is certain the country will improve and set a new milestone for future generations.

“We have the capacity to challenge for the medals beyond track and field. Boxing, rugby, and volleyball offer Kenya a better avenue to supplement on what track and field offers,” he added.

Kenya will also utilize the quota system provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to field athletes in the country’s fringe sports like swimming and softball.

“This is the year whereby most of the qualification starts and we would like to help our federations because we realized that we have been losing out on the opportunity in the previous years. There are some new entrants to the Olympics and we are in discussion to see how more we can help them,” said Francis Mutuku, NOCK secretary-general.