Olympics still a pipedream for Kenyan slalom rowers


The Olympics will remain a pipedream for Kenyan slalom rowers as they settled for bronze medals with Senegal, Morocco and Nigeria dominating the two-day qualifiers in Sagana and qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

The recent rains might have complemented the scenic Sagana Grand River Camp as Nigerian Jonathan Akiyemi and Jean Pierre Bourhis (Senegal) conquered the tough course to win the men’s kayak (K1) and canoe (C1) contests, respectively.

The duo and Hind Jamili (108.61 seconds) from Morocco in the women’s K1 claimed the only slots for Africa as Kenya’s Grace Maina won the bronze.

Akiyemi was flawless at all the 18 gates, taking 94.88 seconds to win for his second Olympic appearance after his debut at the 2012 London Games.

Mehdi Rouich (Morocco) won the silver in 99.74 seconds after taking a four-second penalty, the same sanction suffered by Katleho Mahlaba (South Africa), whose 102.51 seconds gave him the bronze.

Samuel Muturi (115.06 seconds), who did not incur a penalty, finished fourth to be the best-placed Kenyan in K1.

“This is my third time in Kenya but my first to qualify from here for the Olympics,” said the UK-based Akiyemi, 26, who started rowing at the age of 16.

Bourhis covered the course in 100.56 seconds after incurring a two-second penalty at the last 18th upstream gate for his Olympic appearance debut.

Lindelani Ngidi (South Africa) also incurred a two-second penalty at the similar stage to settle for the silver in 107.02 seconds.

Kenya’s Alphaxard Maina (119.86 seconds) was flawless but too slow, settling for the bronze.