Special Olympics

It is more important to participate than to win; nothing embodies this Olympics slogan than the Special Olympics. The games are more about participants well being than winning or losing, writes Edna Kivuva

His innocent smile, long gaze in the air, a few incoherent words, immense energy in the field and intense concentration to the coach, will definitely attract your attention. Mr Ronak Sachania is among the special athlete's training in floor hockey and football in order to be selected to represent Kenya in the world winter Special Olympics in South Korea come January next year. 

His mother Ranjan Sachania, the vice chairperson in the committee for Down Syndrome society of Kenya, admits that whether a child is normal or special; parents will always face challenges raising them. However if the child is special like hers who has Down syndrome, their appreciation of the community depends on how a parent accepts them first.

“This games have made Ronak more confident, interactive with other children and he is always looking forward to Saturdays so that he can train with the other athletes”, she confirms.

The nineteen year old has down syndrome, but this does not deter him from realizing his dream of becoming an engineer. Ronak is pursuing a Diploma in electrical and electronics at SOS Children’s’ Villages Kenya College in Buruburu.

Overcoming Challenges

“I have been getting good reports from Ronak’s teachers, but the greatest challenge to him is that he cannot learn the theory part but can only do the vocational bit of the course. He has learnt a lot and can fix electrical appliances at home when they break down”, Ms Ranjan Sachania reminisces.

She admits that Parklands is far from Buruburu making transport expensive, thus she has to part with Ksh. 600 daily to hire a motorbike to take Ronak to college and fetch him in the evening. 

Ms Sachania who is the coordinator for parents support at the Kenya Special Olympics confesses that Ronak did not qualify to join the team going to the special world competitions. But she always ensures he comes for trainings every Saturday at the University of Nairobi grounds; “I hope next time he will be part of the next world competitions.” 

“We always take Ronak to the temple with us, because he loves music and dancing. We also go to the malls with him because we love him, he is our only child and everywhere we go people just love him” she says jovially. 

Future Plans

Ms Sachania plans to open up a shop dealing with electrical and electronic appliances in future where she hopes to incorporate her son. “I want him to be totally independent financially by the time he is thirty so that he can make his own decisions in life”, she asserts. 

Kenya Special Olympics Games Manager

The Games Manager at Kenya Special Olympics (KSO) Ms Susan Muinde encourages parents with children special needs to bring them for games. She affirms that when the parents get them to mingle with others it helps them to be social, calm and disciplined due to the rules in sports.

“It is so unfortunate that some people call people who are intellectually challenged; machizi, havuti waya, amefiatu, and worse in our local languages. Yet there is so much that people with special needs can achieve if supported”, she acknowledges.

Ms Sachania says that his son is very keen about everything he does, he is neat, and very independent. She notes that Ronak is currently going through a financial training so that he can know how to manage his money beside his Diploma course in electrical electronics. She can send him to the shop and be assured he will bring the correct change.

“I have realized that if you give Ronak a chance to learn, he is able to do it without any assistance and when you give him a gift, no matter how small he really appreciates. I call him my gift from God, whenever I go everyone wants to meet him because I am proud of him” she enthuses.  

Last year the Kenya team brought several medals from the World Summer Special Olympic Games in Greece. They were able to get 21 gold medals, 13 silver medals and 1 bronze medal which was a great triumph. 

Ms Muinde states that this year they have slotted the floor hockey games because most of the other games are in-door and they require ice like skating, skiing, among others which we do not have in Kenya.

“We have innovated local sticks and packs, which we have given to various clubs practicing floor hockey, we have challenges with the equipment and training grounds. But we are hoping as we near the winter games we will access an appropriate ground to train because we want to win gold”, Muinde hopes.  

Ms Muinde highlights that in October they will be pioneers in the first Africa Regional Special Games to compete for the unified cup to be held in South Africa. They have entered a unified football team for both those with and without intellectual disability, and they are expecting to win.

In September the Kenya Special Olympics team will be taking a swimming team to Puerto-Rico for an aquatic competition which is the only sport they will be participating in.

“We have health screening for our team to check whether our athletes are in good health because we realized that their health needs are at times neglected. We are going to have five screenings done by qualified doctors who are also trained by Kenya Special Olympics to cater for persons with special needs,” emphasized Ms Muinde.

It is more important to participate

The Special Olympics coach Mr Joshua Agare, articulates that for one to qualify to be a good athlete, discipline is required. He believes that everyone is a winner, the fact that one has made an attempt means they have tried and this to him is good enough.

“Our slogan is that we are winners and if we do not win at least we made an attempt”, Agare reiterates. Special Olympics does not focus on winning ribbons or medals. The fact that one has participated is enough to make one a hero. 

Mr Agare who is a former participant of the Special Olympic Games has won several medals; in 1995 he won two gold and one silver medals, while last year he won a silver medal in handball. 

Kenya Special Olympics started in 1978 and prides in being the oldest in Africa. The games started in the special schools that we have in the country. 

Simon Ngige played an inspired round of 7 birdies and 6 pars as he went on to claim a total score of 67, 4 under the 71 par Muthaiga Golf course, at the end of Day one of the Barclays Kenya Open.

Ngige ended day one tied for 13th as the best placed Kenyan, ahead of amateur Alfred Nandwa (T42) who ended on 2 under par, Riz Charania and David Odhiambo (T56) both on 1 under par. Stefan Adersen and Richard Ainley (T73) finishing the day on par.

The day however belonged to South Africa’s Jaco Ahlers, the former European Tour player blowing away the field to finish on 7 under par to finish top of the Leaderboard, ahead of Welshman Rhys Davies who shot a 6 under par.

Defending Kenya Open champion Sebastien Soderberg finished on T56 after playing a round of one under par. Kenyan hopefuls Dismas Indiza and Jacob Okello both had a bad day at the office playing rounds of 1 over and 7 over par respectively.

Greg Snow also completing a rough day on the Muthaiga course on 2 over par to place him at T113.

Day 2 action resumes on Friday from 7:00 am with players aiming to make the CUT to play into the weekend.

Netherlands’ Will Besseling, the winner of Karen Masters last week was also impressive, posting 35 in the first nine and 32 on the back nine for a score of 4 under par 67.

Former champion Gary Boyd of England posted a similar score but would have had a better result had he not picked a double bogey on hole 12 that cancelled an eagle on hole 10 where he teed off.

Reigning champion, Swedish Sebastian Soderberg is six strokes behind the leader after picking four bogeys in his round, he, however, picked a total of five birdies to settle for one under par 70.

The field for Friday's matches has, however, been reduced owing to the withdrawal of Englands Chris Lloyd, Bjorn Hellgren of Sweden who retired and the disqualification of Kenya’s Mathew Omondi who signed for the wrong score.

Leader board after Round 1:

Jaco Ahlers (SA)            -7    64

Rhys Davies (WL)         -6    65

Oscar Lengden (SWE)   -6    65

Oscar Stark (SWE)         -6   65

Jens Dantorp (SWE)       -6   65

Kalle Samooja (FIN)      -6   65

Kenya's track legend Paul Tergat has urged athletes to take cross country competitions seriously as it boosts their performances during the track and road race seasons.

Tergat, who is a five-time World Cross Country Champion, said the event has had a low acceptance rate, especially from athletes in Europe and America, yet it has been proven it serves as a stepping stone towards building an athlete's stamina and endurance.

"Cross country is a very important event. And as we head to Kampala, it is important for those athletes who avoid it because it is strenuous to note that it helps boost their preparedness in terms of endurance," he said.

Tergat is the brand ambassador for the IAAF during the World Cross Country Championships, which will be held on Sunday in Kampala.

Last month he toured the course in Kampala and it filled him with nostalgia knowing what fame and accomplishment he gained out of the event during his active days as an athlete.

"This is very fine," Tergat said after a tour of the course. "It is a good challenging course with so many obstacles that will give a great scene to the spectators and a great run to the athletes."

Tergat said the about 600 athletes who will line up for the championships will have an upper hand in the build-up to the track season, which starts in May as they seek to attain optimum performance ahead of the World Championships in London in August.

But he singled out Kenya to dominate the event which returns to the Africa continent for the fifth time. World Cross Country Championships were first held in Africa in 1975 in Rabat, before Johannesburg, Marrakech and Mombasa staged the game.

Now he has prodded the Kenya team, which departs to Kampala Thursday, to go and affirm their prowess in the event by winning in the Ugandan capital.

His sentiments were echoed by another cross country great, Kenyan John Ngugi.

After missing out on the top podium places at 2007 Mombasa World Cross Country, Ngugi said that it's now time for senior men and women to remedy that with victories at Kampala.

Tergat on the other hand, said Kenyan juniors have now matured to take on the world after they failed to secure victory at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.

Ngugi made history when he became the first man to win five senior men's 12km titles at the World Cross Country Championships. He won the races back-to-back from 1986 to 1989 before returning to claim the title again in 1992.

Tergat would become the second man to win the race five times, equaling Ngugi's record with back-to-back victories in 1995 to 1999.

Not long after the Sports Dispute Tribunal(SDT) reinstated Sofa Paka and Muhoroni Youth to the top flight  Kenya Premier League, Football Kenya Federation has confirmed the guideline for promotion and demotion of the league .

In a  letter signed by the Fkf Secretary General/CEO Robert Muthomi and sent to the Managing Director of Kenya Premier League Company Jack Aguda and copied to all KPL clubs, the federation has advised the KPL Company to stick to the decision of the National Executive Committee(NEC) which resolved that the last two teams on the final table standing  be relegated to the second tier league.

''We take this early opportunity to advise that as per the decision of the Fkf National Executive Committee, the teams finishing last and second last position according to the final table standing of the 2017 KPL season will be relegated directly to the National Super League(NSL). The teams finishing first and second position according to the final table standing of the 2017 NSL season will be promoted directly to the KPL.

The team finishing 16'th position on the final KPL table standing and the team finishing position number three(3) in the final NSL table standing will be subjected to the play off match to determine the team that participates in the 2018 KPL season'' read part of the letter

The newly expanded 2017 KPL consist of  18 teams including four newbies namely Nzoia Sugar, Kariobangi Sharks, Nakumatt and Zoo Kericho

A late strike by Jumaan Khalid salvaged a point for Nairobi City Stars during the mid week Fkf National Super League match played at KPA Mbaraki Sports Club on Wednesday 22/3/2017.

The match started at a cracking pace with Rangers throwing everything into attack from the word go and in the 5'th min dribbling wizard George Owiti tapped home a pass from Francis Ochola on the left flank.

Ten minutes later City Stars keeper Koffi Jean Claude  parred away  Athman Bori 's long drive  for an abortive corner. City Stars came back  raiding Rangers goalmouth with Oscar Jumba drive cleared by Samuel Karori in the 23'rd min.

The visitors made another effort in the 38'th min when Hamisi Mwinyi set Jumaan Khalid but his shot went over the bar.

City Stars came back a rejuvenated side in the second half and soon their  coach made substitution bringing in Innocent Mutiso for Edwin Nduati. Mutiso terrorized rangers defence with his long drive going off target in the 77'th min.  Two minutes later  Juman Khalid shot blocked by Rangers keeper Ryan Hamisi. Jumaan Khalid levelled the score when he headed home a cross from Mutiso four minutes to time and enable the visitors share the spoils.

With the Results Rangers have five points from three matches as City Stars have one point from three matches played.

Rangers face Vihiga United next Sunday 26/3/2017 at Mumias stadium as City Stars host Agro Chemical at Camp Toyoyo on the same day.

Nairobi City Stars 1-1 Modern Rangers FC

Strathmore University ladies team on Thursday evening beat Vikings 3-0 denying them 3 points in the only midweek fixture played at the City Park Stadium.  This was the first game for the two teams in this year’s league.

Strathmore dominated the game with Vikings getting to the 25 yard line less than five times. 7 minutes into the game, Gilly Okumu of Strathmore made a solo move dribbling ball from 50 yard line past Vikings defense then passed  to Judy Apondi who put tried to find the back of the net but instead the ball went to a Vikings defense player giving the university side their first Penalty Corner (PC) but failed to convert.

In the 12th minute, Ruth Odhiambo with an assist from Gilly, tapped in the ball past Vikings Goal Keeper, Esther Kariuki was was caught flat foot. Thirteen minutes later,  Gilly got the ball in the net after dribbling past vikings defense. Despite dominating the 1st half, Strathmore failed to covert 4 PCs something that their Coach Meshack Senge said he could not understand but will address it when speaking to the girls.

The the 2nd half Strathmore seemed content with the score missing many open chances and failing to convert any PC they got against Vikings.  In the 52nd minute, Winnie Ingati scored what would be consider the goal of the season as she chipped inside after seeing Esther Kariuki had left the goal. 5 min to stoppage time game became tense when sticks started flying in the air and at some point Strathmore player of the day, Gilly had to be taken out by medical team to be attended to after she was hit on the head.

Strathmore will play next Mombasa Sports Club Away on the 9th of April while Vikings will be Hosting Amira Sailors at City Park on the 19th of April.

AFC Leopards has raised concerns over fan behaviour while travelling for matches  against  following events of the fans' trip to Thika last Sunday.

Everton are considering a pre-season friendly in Tanzania as part of their expected new sponsorship deal with SportPesa.

Barcelona are the only club to provide Chapecoense with financial help after the deadly plane crash that killed players and staff members of the Brazilian side in November,

Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari is still unsure about its Formula 1 championship chances in 2017 despite finishing as the fastest team through pre-season testing.

Following a winless campaign in 2016, Ferrari sprung a surprise in winter testing by dominating proceedings in Barcelona, with Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen finishing as the fastest drivers.

The new SF70H car appears to be a marked improvement on its predecessor following the change in the technical regulations, with three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton naming Ferrari as the favorite to win the first race in Australia this weekend.

Vettel remained coy about his chances when speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference, saying it won’t be until the first sessions of the weekend in Melbourne are complete that Ferrari will truly know where it stands.

“So far we don’t know anything. For all of us it will be exciting to find out where we are on Saturday and Sunday, to get a first impression,” Vettel said.

“For us a lot of new things last year didn’t really go the way we expected, so I think for this year we have really focused on ourselves. We have tried to do our job back in the factory and in testing.

“I think testing times, I don’t think they are that crucial, I think it matters much more what you show from here onwards. We’ll see. I think we are a bit in the dark like everyone else, not knowing what other people have done.

“For ourselves we can be reasonably happy, we did decent mileage, we didn’t have any major issues with the car and hopefully we can carry that momentum into the race.”

Vettel added that Mercedes rival Hamilton “must be” the favorite for the drivers’ title in 2017 given the German team’s form, having won over 50 races in the past three years.

“Mercedes obviously has been in very, very strong form the last three years and even though we changed the regulations, if a team is strong then they will build a strong car the year after, no matter what you do with the rules,” Vettel said.

“I think it’s very clear who is the favorite. For all of us sitting here, we are trying our best to catch-up. How much we have succeeded, we will see and, as the season goes on, I’m sure the cars will have big progression and all the teams will bring lots of stuff to develop the cars.

“So, whoever’s in a good place in the beginning and still in a good place at the end will have a chance.”

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko is convinced Mercedes will consider Sebatsian Vettel for its 2018 line-up.

Marko is obviously well-versed when it comes to analysing the German driver's motivations and hypothetical plans, having brought him into the Red Bull pen years ago and shared four world championships with the Ferrari driver.

This season is viewed by many as a 'make or break' year for Ferrari and Vettel.

Should the Scuderia fail to live up once again to its expectations, the German could be encouraged to take a look at an opportunity of driving a Silver Arrows.

"Frankly, Sebastian’s results from 2016 did not reflect his class," former boss Marko insisted.

"There were some races where he would have done much better if he just wasn’t unlucky.

"Now, he will definitely try to be successful and in the end decide what will be the best for him personally," he added.

Marko thinks Mercedes signing Valtteri Bottas only for 2017, amid the expiring contracts of Vettel and Fernando Alosno, have been no coincidence.

"Mercedes will be interested in them for 2018," Marko concluded.

Manchester United reportedly lead the race to sign Atletico Madrid centre-back Jose Gimenez. The 22-year-old joined Atletico from Uruguayan side Danubio in 2013, and has been a regular at the Vicente Calderon over the last three seasons.

Gimenez has been forced to play second fiddle to Diego Godin and Stefan Savic for periods of the 2016-17 campaign, however, and it is understood that the defender is considering his long-term future in Madrid.

Liverpool have been strongly linked with a move for the Uruguay international, but according to AS, Man United are in pole position to land the centre-back as Jose Mourinho looks to sign defensive reinforcements this summer.

Gimenez, who has been restricted to just seven La Liga starts this season, has a release clause in the region of £39m.

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has been ruled out up for to a month with calf injury suffered in loss at West Brom, the scan has revealed.

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Bale and Ronaldo both played as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 yesterday. Goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro strengthened their grip on the La Liga title.

However, despite the victory, all is not well at the Santiago Bernabeu. Spanish outlet Diario Gol claimed yesterday that Ronaldo was fuming with Zinedine Zidane for substituting him late on.

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France’s national railway company, SNCF, and professional and financial services group Deloitte have signed up as official supporters of France’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

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The company will also provide logistical support to the FFR during different stages of the application process while promoting the bid both nationally and internationally.

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Multiple sources on Sunday night and Monday morning have reported that Wenger will tell the Arsenal board that he wants to stay at the club beyond this season – for either one or two more years – in a decision that will not be a particularly popular one if and when it is confirmed.

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