Ayimba to name 12-man squad for Olympic Games qualifiers

After a week of rigorous, high-altitude training in Nandi County, the national Sevens rugby team is hoping for good rewards in the Olympic Games qualifiers in South Africa this weekend.

It will be a test of endurance for the squad, which also seeks to erase the under-par performance at the 2015 World Rugby Sevens Series.

Then, Kenya finished 13th, failing to garner a top-four slot that would have ensured them automatic qualification for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next year.

South Africa is ranked first in Africa and Kenya second in the qualifiers.

The 18-man sevens squad had set base at the Nandi Bears Golf Club.

WHATEVER IT TAKES

Head coach Benjamin Ayimba said the team has what it takes to weather the storm and scrum their way into the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza in August next year.

He said the training was of great importance to the team.

“The Nandi base has proved quite important for the team because we encountered different weather patterns to keep us prepared for all conditions,” Ayimba said as the team closed camp on Saturday before leaving for Nairobi on Sunday morning.

Monday, Ayimba is expected to name the 12 players who will represent the country in the two-day qualifiers.

Collins Injera, Sam Montari, Robert Aringo, Willy Ambaka, Frank Wanyama, Eden Agero, Jeff Oluoch, Lenard Mugaisi, Augustine Lugonzo and Alvin Otieno stand a chance of being in the team disclosed that the team that is set to head Down South on Thursday.

Others are Oscar Ayodi,Nelson Oyoo, Adrew Amonde, Ken Muset, Dennis Ombachi, Humphrey Khayange, Billy Odhiambo and Bush Mwale.

“In sports, discipline determines your spirits, the willingness to wake up early and staying focused form what is needed for a winning mind,” Ayimba said.

HIGH-ALTITUDE TRAINING

Iten and Nandi Hills are high-altitude areas which have produced great athletics stars since Kenya started dominating in athletics in the 1968 Olympic Games.

Foreign athletes at times set base in Nandi Hills ahead of major competitions such as the Olympics and IAAF World Champ-ionships.

Nandi is experiencing cold mornings, briefly warm middays and rainy afternoons and Ayimba said the weather has served the team well.

“The high altitude factor also has a huge influence on the blood and breathing, so it is a two bird, one stone scenario,” he said.

Scientists say training at high altitude increases red blood cell count to cater for the oxygen deficit caused by increase in heights.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION