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Under-18 team deserved trip, says coach Gikonyo

Team Kenya coach, Kariuki Gikonyo, has said athletes and coaches deserved a four-day holiday trip to the Coast after a good performance in World Under-18 Championships in Athletics at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.

Gikonyo said the trip was a befitting reward for athletes and coaches who delivered good results in the championships held from July 12-16.

“I have been to Mombasa many times but on work-related duties. The trip is a good way of rewarding the athletes after a good performance,” Gikonyo said on Sunday in Mombasa where the team is holidaying.

The team, which finished fourth overall in the global youth championship, is at the Coast in a paid-up holiday, courtesy of the government.

The athletes, who met President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday morning at State House, Nairobi, arrived in Mombasa by train on Saturday. The athletes were booked in at the prestigious Pride Inn Hotel in Mombasa.

On Friday, the 44 athletes and 32 coaches were given Sh7.6 million by president Kenyatta. Each member of the squad, including coaches, was to take home Sh100,000 as a token of appreciation after a successful championship.

WELCOME REWARD

World Under-18 800m gold medallist Jackline Wambui thanked the government for treating the team to a holiday.

The Form Four student at Riruta Central Secondary School in Nairobi said it was the first time the athletes, whom are all students, were staying in a five-star hotel.

“Most of us have never been to Mombasa, let alone staying in such a prestigious hotel. It feels good to have been appreciated for our performance. The tour of historical sites like Fort Jesus, Mombasa Old Town and places like Mama Ngina Drive, Mombasa Ferry Crossing  and Bamburi Nature Trail has been particularly refreshing,” she said. Wambui, who is determined to make a mark in athletics internationally, said: “The support, training and motivation we get as students have made us what we are today.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by team captain David Saruni who said going on holiday was the best way to refresh after days of hard work in training and a week of pressure at the championships.

“It’s really good that the government has given us an opportunity to refresh and relax after training hard. I sincerely thank the president for the kind gesture,” the 17-year-old student at Mogonga Secondary School in Kisii County said.

Team manager Barnabas Kitilit said: “These boys and girls worked very hard both in training and on the track,  missing the overall title by whisker and sponsoring them to such a trip will go along way in motivating them to perform well in future.”

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