KENYA WIN GOLD IN FLOOR HOCKEY WINTER OLYMPICS IN SEOUL

Sports News Africa – Kenya has strike gold in floor hockey at the just concluded ten day World Winter Olympics games that ended in PyeongChang, South Korea yesterday (Wednesday).

The Special Olympics Kenya (SOK) floor hockey team defeated continental power house Algeria 2-0 to lift the coveted gold medal in the T7 Division finals. Kenya had forced Algeria to a 2-2 draw earlier in the round robin encounter.

The semi final was not a smooth ride for Kenya who had to tackle tough Turkmenistan who had edged them 5-6 in the preliminaries. The two countries had a 2-2 deadlock before the semi final match was forced into the extra time; determined Kenya eventually sailed through to the finals with a 4-3 advantage after capitalizing on Turkmenistan slight mistakes in the last minutes.

Apart from Turkmenistan, only Korea’s Banbis managed to pin Kenya down winning 4-2 in the round robin encounter where Kenya played a total of eight games. Other wins for Kenya in the preliminaries include 10-5 against Isle of Man, 5-1 against Japan, 4-0 against Korea’s Holt, 8-1 against Afghanistan and 10-0 against Spain.

“We are more than happy for winning this gold medal, it really mean a lot to us owing to the fact that floor hockey is a rare game in Kenya and we were participating in the global games for the very first time,” SOK Country Director John Makathimo told FeverPitch on phone from Korea.

Makathimo said they were able to win gold as a result of the Sh7.7million sponsorship the team got from the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, the corporate sectors and the media.

“I am grateful to National Funds for the Disabled, Kenya Power and Lighting Company, staff of International Finance Corporation, Renowned philanthropist Solomon Muthamia, Prime Bank chairman Rasik Kantaria, national carrier Kenya Airways, Telkom Orange, National Olympic Committee-Kenya, Sports Stadia Management Board who all contributed in one way or the other to make this team comfortable both at home and in South Korea,” Makathimo said.

Head coach Susan Masila, who was being assisted by James Okwiri and Hussein Msafiri to manage the team, said this concerning the win: “We worked on skills, conditioning and side games. Though it was our first time at the games we had faith that we would stage a good show which we just did, I am proud of my players who were committed and showed great level of discipline at the games.”

The team jets in this morning (Thursday) at 5.30am at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and will be hosted at a breakfast meeting at YMCA South C, Nairobi. The Kenya’s gold winning squad include Howard Masha,Kevin Omondi,Alex Bala,Lenox Juma,Riziki Mmbara,Edwin Kagoni,John Mwaka,Pascal Mwamuye,Muthui Kala,Daniel Wanjala,Patrick Mugure,Kagondu Kariuki,Julias Gaya,Peter Muriithi and Jashua Agare.

The final selection of the team was done from the national trials that were conducted in Nairobi from four national clubs namely the University of Nairobi, Mathare, Baba Dogo and Kisauni Olympics Club who took part in the trials. SOK was last September able to take a swimming team to represent Kenya in the World Aquatic Competition in Puerto Rico where Kenya clinched four silver and a bronze.

SOK was also able to take a football team to represent the country in the Africa Unity Cup in Royal Bafokeng,South Africa, where Kenya finished in fourth position. Floor hockey is an indoor game that is closely similar to ice hockey but played on a smooth surface for 30 minutes. There are a total of 16 players for every team.

Each team fields six players for every three minutes during the game and then rotates five new players after every three minutes interval for 30 minutes before the teams’ proceeds for half time. They use s doughnut shaped disk called a puck and a broom like hockey sticks. Each player has to wear protective helmet, shin guards, elbow guards and chest protectors. The goalie dons a glove and blocker to guard the goal mouth.

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