President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday flagged off Kenya’s contingent for the 24th Summer Deaflympics to be hosted in Brazil’s Caxias do Sul City May 1-15.
During the ceremony held at the State House Nairobi, the Head of State called on the team to strive for positions in the medal bracket and surpass the 2017 performance in Samsun, Turkey of a total of 16 medals (5 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze)
President Uhuru also urged the athletes to emulate Kenya’s middle and long distance runners who have reigned supreme at the Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games over the years.
“I wish you well in Brazil, you have displayed that disability is not inability, I am so proud of you and your officials for preparing you well. Kenya is a sporting nation as it has been witnessed in athletics, rugby and WRC Safari Rally,” President Kenyatta said.
Speaking at the same event, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Amb. Dr. Amina Mohamed said through the Sports, Arts, and Social Development Fund, sports teams that represent Kenya in regional and international competitions are now well catered for.
“This time we are sending a big delegation compared to the last edition in 2017. Now we have an addition of women’s football as well as handball men and women, so we expect to come back with more medals,” CS Amina underscored.
“Besides the usual training for the competition, the team has also undergone sensitisation on anti-doping regulations, mental health, and media relations. We are, therefore, confident of posting great results that will cement our place in the world charts as a hub for talent,” she added.
The team were resplendent in their ceremonial outfit, the men donning white shirts with beaded cuffs and the ladies in red dresses complete with beaded statement neck pieces representing the rich Kenyan culture.
“Additionally, I wish to thank our women from the Ushanga Kenya Initiative who have produced beaded attires and jewellery that will worn by our athletes in Brazil as we seek to showcase our rich and unique culture to the world,” CS Amina remarked.
“The Initiative has had an immense contribution towards the empowerment of women from pastoralist and marginalized communities by training them on value addition and improved techniques in beadwork,” She added.
The first batch of athletes and officials will depart the country on Thursday April 21 followed by the second group on Saturday April 23.
Football will kick off the Games with the opening fixture scheduled for April 30th just before the opening ceremony.
Hosts Brazil will be among those lined up to play in the April 30 fixtures. On the same day Egypt will play France while Turkey will lock horns with Germany.
Kenya will field teams in Basketball (men and women) and Handball (men and women) as well as golf (men) and athletics (men and women).
Kenya’s golf team will comprise of three players among them the 2020 Kenya Amateur Matchplay Champion Isaac Makokha.
The Kenya Women’s Deaf Team team will kickstart its campaign with Japan on May 3.
They will play hosts Brazil two days later before taking on Poland on May 7.
The youthful Kenyan women footballers will be at it on May 7 against USA in their last preliminary.
Deaflympics is an international multi-sport event, organized by the International Committee on Sports for the Deaf (ICSD – International Committee of Sports for the Deaf).
The first edition, held in Paris in 1924, was also the first sporting event for people with special needs.
The Summer Deaflympics takes place every 4 years and is the oldest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.
For the 24th Summer edition, it is expected to receive 6,500 people, including deaf athletes and technical commissions and teams from more than 90 countries.
As a historic landmark, Brazil will be the first country in Latin America to host the Summer Deaflympic Games, which will also be the largest multi-sport event ever held in Rio Grande do Sul.