NAIROBI, July 20 (Xinhua) — Kenya will send only two field events athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
One is the famous Julius Yego, the Rio 2016 Olympics silver medalist and Beijing 2015 World Championships gold winner in men’s javelin. He remains the only Kenyan to scale the podium in field events at a major international championship.
The other is Mathew Sawe, a two-time African high jump champion who is aching to make a name in Tokyo on his Olympics debut after having tanked at the Doha 2019 World Championships.
While Yego is included in the medal conversation due to his previous exploits despite a torrid run of form in the build-up to Tokyo, the 33-year-old Sawe has set himself a modest target.
Having recovered from debilitating injuries that have curtailed his progress over the past three seasons, Sawe is hoping to improve on his best of 2.30 meters.
“I’m really excited to be competing at the Olympics. My aim is to break the Kenyan record and also try and make it to the finals,” the high jumper said ahead of his departure to Japan.
Sawe sealed his spot in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games through the world rankings released on June 29, where he placed 24th by the close of the qualification window.
“I’m working hard to see that I am in the best shape. As you know, COVID-19 scattered most of the sporting activities but I hope we will get where we were before in terms of fitness,” added Sawe.
In Japan, he will count on his wealth of experience on the continental scene to give him a platform to excel at the global stage.
Olympic Kenya Secretary-General Francis Mutuku said Sawe and Yego’s presence in the team was crucial in motivating other talented athletes to take to field events.
“Their participation and a good showing will be another huge incentive to our quest to expand, not just our disciplines portfolio in the Olympics and major events, but also medal prospects,” underlined Mutuku.