A course made up of 29 lung-busting climbs would appear to be tailor-made for Chris Froome but the four-time champion admitted on Tuesday that he may not even be on the start line at the 2020 Tour de France.
“It’s impossible to say,” said Froome at the route unveiling in Paris. “Nothing is decided.”
“As far as I’m concerned, I need to get up to the right level before we even start talking about who will be the (Team Ineos) leader or that kind of thing.”
The reason for this uncertainty was evident when Froome walked, a right leg that trailed and which he has described as only being at 35 percent on the bike.
The Briton is still in recovery after sustaining dreadful injuries in June when he hit a brick wall at high speed, fracturing ribs, a femur, and an elbow after taking his hands off the handlebars to blow his nose.
He was not expected to race again this year but returned to his bike for a practice ride at the weekend outside Nice, starting point for the 2020 Tour, and is slated to take part in one of the events surrounding the Saitama Criterium in Japan later this month.
In his absence, Ineos still prevailed at the 2019 Tour de France in the shape of the young Colombian Egan Bernal. The team also boasts the 2018 champion Geraint Thomas which means there really are no guarantees ahead of the June 27 start.
“There are eight months left,” said Froome.
“I still need two or three months to correct the weaknesses inherited from my fall. But I hope, in a few months, to find the level I had last season.”
Froome’s bid to return to full fitness is made even tougher by the fact he needs further surgery at the end of the month.
“I still have a pin to remove from my hip,” he says.
Another setback, one that he can do nothing about, is age.
Froome will turn 35 in May. Should he prevail next July and match the five titles of Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, he would be the second oldest winner ever behind the Belgian Firmin Lambot who was 36 when he won for the second time in 1922.
“The Tour will be an enormous source of motivation,” he says.
Kenya Sevens’ rampaging ‘Buffalo’ – Daily Nation
Kenya Sevens might have signalled their return to winning ways at the 2019-2020 World Rugby Sevens Series with an unbeaten group matches run at Cape Town Sevens, but it is Homeboyz winger Alvin Otieno, who has been a revelation.
Kenya beat Samoa 24-19 on Friday before edging out Australia 12-7 in a tense encounter Saturday to set up a Group “D” decider match against Ireland later that evening. It ended 24-24 to secure Shujaa their first Cup quarter-finals of the season.
And one man has been in the thick of things for this exciting Kenyan side
Otieno, who has been nicknamed “Buffalo” or simply “Buffa”, has been the talk of the Series with his ball carrying ability and sheer physicality that has left man a defender sprawled on the ground.
The 26-year-old has shown an eye for the try, good vision to set up team mates and love for the physical battle, a hallmark of the game.
The Kakamega High School old boy landed Kenya’s fourth try for a 24-17 lead against Ireland
Johnstone Olindi latched on the restart ball before putting Otieno through on the flank. In what has become his trademark, Otieno gave an Irish defender a hand-off before cantering to the try line.
Otieno exploits added to tries by skipper Andrew Amonde, who was sin-binned for a late tackle, Vincent Onyala and Johnstone Olindi. Daniel Taabu made two conversions.
But the red-hot Ireland fought back to draw level at the death of a pulsating game and clinch the group on superior points aggregate.
Ireland had earlier stunned Australia and Samoa 26-21 and 28-14 respectively.
The result was enough for Kenya, to qualify for their second Cup quarters appearance in two seasons, having made only one in Paris last season.
Otieno, who made his Kenya Sevens and World Rugby Series debut at the 2016 Hong Kong Sevens, was again at the centre of the action in the victory against Australia, scoring one of Kenya’s two tries.
The rampaging “Buffalo”, deep inside his half, gave an Australian defender a smashing hand-off before quickly shifting up the gears to race for the try box.
On Friday, the explosive Otieno made his presence known when he tore into Samoa’s territory, swatting defenders to the ground at will or dragging them along his devastating runs.
The rest of the gang quickly fed off his destructive path finding gaps in the disorganised defence of the opposition to score.
“Buffa was destine for greatness when I plucked him from Western Bulls in 2014 to Homeboyz,” said Homeboyz former coach Paul “Pau” Murunga.
He described Otieno as a humble and disciplined player. “His energy levels are always up and he is always the happiest player even in morning runs. He always motivate players,” said Murunga.
Dorcas Shikobe: A tale of dreams and love for football
Just a mention of the name Oserian evokes memories of football made in Naivasha.
Once a powerhouse in domestic league, Oserian FC put the dusty Naivasha town, popularly known for floriculture and tourist sites, on the national and international football map.
Oserian is the first ever club from Naivasha to qualify for the prestigious Premier League in 1998.
The then flourishing club gave the big boys of Kenyan football in Kenya a memorable scare by breaking the monotony of the city clubs dominating the Kenyan Premier League title.
Oserian clinched the league crown in 2000. The following year they finished second and qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup.
Oserian became the second club from South Rift Valley, after the defunct Scarlet FC, to represent Kenya in continental matches. However, they were eliminated by Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel.
The team also played in Council of East and Central Africa Football Association (Cecafa) Club Cup but lost to compatriots Tusker in the final.
Oserian produced stars who went on to wear the national team Harambee Stars’ colours.
These are goalkeeper Noah Ayuko, John Luchuku, Anthony Shikubu, Sammy Simiyu, John Baraza and Mike Mururi among others.
Other former strong players who left a mark in the team include former internationals Francis Baraza and the Ambani brothers, Fred and Boniface.
The club also attracted some of the best local coaches such as Twahir Muhidin and Edward Manoah.
The Oserian of the 1990s may have withered, but national women’s team Harambee Starlets skipper Dorcas Shikobe is keeping the flame burning at the Oserian Stadium.
Shikobe, 28, who hails from Kakamega is a rising star. She is rekindling the good old days when Oserian Stadium was a slaughterhouse for top dogs in the Premier League.
Shikobe is a role model for other upcoming young women seeking to play in the national team. She was named captain this year in a move that caught her by surprise.
“I least expected to be selected as Harambee Starlets captain. I am happy the management of the team has bestowed on me the onus. It is a clear indication that my talent is growing because it never crossed my mind that at one time I will ever become the captain,” said the mother of one.
“My appointment as the captain of Starlets is an opportunity to develop my leadership skills as I perfect my playing skills.”
But what did the management of Starlets see in her?
“I think what they saw in me is hard work, self-discipline and total devotion to the game among the other factors,” Shikobe said, adding that the armband comes with a lot of pressure.
“After the coach has done his part, the remaining critical part goes to the captain who must guide the team to victory on the pitch,” said Shikobe.
She decried the low support the team is receiving from the government. “The government should release money for national teams so that players can go to camp early and gel.”
The sixth born in a family of 10 – five boys and five girls – said her dream is to play professional football in South Africa and Europe.
“I don’t want my God-given talent to go down the drain. I want more than just playing in the domestic league and a few international matches. I want to exploit my full potential and I can only do that by playing in top-flight leagues in countries with established women football leagues. That is my ultimate dream. I hope it comes true before I reach the peak of my career in the next couple of years.”
Shikobe said her most memorable moment was when Starlets won this year’s Cecafa Senior Women’s Challenge Cup in Tanzania. Starlets scored a record 24 goals and guided the team to victory without conceding a goal.
Starlets beat Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Queens 2-0 to win the regional trophy in the final match played at Chamazi Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
“There is joy of winning a Cup as a player. There is long-lasting joy when you win a coveted Cup as a national team captain. The Cecafa win remains my happiest moment as a player,” Shikobe said.
Since the inception of the Cecafa Women’s Senior Challenge Cup tournament in Zanzibar 33 years ago, Kenya had never won the title and their best position was runners- up in 2015 in Uganda.
It was a historical moment in the young player’s career when the glittering Cup came home under her captaincy.
“I am so delighted that when the history of Harambee Starlets and women Cecafa tournament would be finally written, I will occupy a chapter as the first ever captain to lead the team to victory,” Shikobe said.
“I felt my qualities as a captain were working well for the national team after the Cecafa win.”
Shikobe said as the captain, she takes the flak when the team is underperforming.
“The coach is on your neck when the team is performing poorly. When the team loses matches, you are required to answer tough questions,” she said.
Shikobe said her lowest moment was last month when Harambee Starlets were knocked of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifying phase after losing 1-0 (3-2 on aggregate) to Zambia’s Shepolopolo.
“After drawing in the first leg in Nairobi, I was upbeat that come the return leg in Lusaka we shall win but lady luck did not smile on us. I have never been so crestfallen and I took a long time to come to terms with the reality that we are out of the Olympic qualifiers,” she said.
Starlets drew 2-2 in Nairobi but in a return match in Lusaka their dreams to secure a final round to the Olympics were dashed when Zambian striker Lushomo Mweemba struck the winner.
“Our training was not well coordinated. We went to camp for four days yet we had not been together for a long time like our Zambian opponents who were in camp for a long period.” said Shikobe.
Starlets booked a place in the fourth round after shocking Ghana with a 0-0 win in Accra and in the return match they won 1-0.
Earlier, Starlets had drawn 1-1 with Ethiopia in the first leg in Addis Ababa and in the return leg in Nairobi they won 1-0.
Shikobe said that the 4-0 thrashing by Nigeria Super Falcons in the Africa Cup of Nations campaign was the most embarrassing defeat as a national team player.
Shikobe started playing competitive football at Thika Queens after completing her Form Four studies at Kilingili High School in Kakamega County.
She has been one of Harambee Starlets core defenders. Her shielding, heading and tackling abilities pushes offensive players off the ball.
Shikobe was a dependable player at Thika Queens and at one time she was unanimously named the team’s best player.
She caught the eye of scouts from Oserian who recruited her to the club in 2015.
Initially, she was an attacking player.
“It’s not easy to accomplish what I have a done. In my opinion, when you have a dream and you really pursue it and focus ahead, then it becomes a reality in the shortest possible time,” Shikobe told Nation Sport in an interview at Oserian Stadium.
“If you want something and tirelessly work for it, then it is just a matter of time before it happens. After all, they say, God’s time is the best.”
The football bug bit Shikobe while at Emulunya Primary School in Kakamega County at the tender age of 10.
“I was the only child in my family who fell in love with football. After school, I would join boys and play football and that is how I sharpened my skills early,” she said.
When Shikobe started playing football, little did she know that one day she would rise to the position she holds. The player, who earned her first national call-up in 2015, has been a regular in the national team.
“Prior to making a ‘permanent’ slot in the national team, I had received many call-ups but I was dropped at the last minute. It was not easy to get a position in the team due to stiff competition,” said Shikobe.
She attributes her success to support she has been receiving from her employer – Oserian Company.
“I have managed because the company takes the welfare of its workers at heart and gives me support to train and time out to join the national team,” she said.
This was supported by her team manager Alfred Otieno who said Shikobe is a very disciplined player with a bright future.
“Her commitment enabled her employer Oserian give her a permanent job and she has never disappointed,” said Otieno.
Harambee Starlets head coach David Ouma praised the team captain as a diligent and formidable player.
“Shikobe is outstanding. Despite being young, she is focused. She has proved her talent. She guided Starlets to their first ever Cecafa Cup. She has a bright future,” he said.
Ouma said Shikobe’s work ethics are top-notch. “This is one player I would wish to make it to the professional ranks. She has what it takes to make it.”
Although Oserian is yet to win the Women’s Premier League title, Shikobe remains optimistic that the club, which is the flagbearer from South Rift Valley, will clinch the title. She said her main objective is to make sure Oserian regains its lost glory.
Shikobe starts her training programme at 5pm and ends it at 6.30pm. “It is not easy to balance the work schedule and my training,” she said.
Shikobe is a great admirer of Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga who currently plays for Japanese second-tier team Kashiwa Reysol.
“One day I would love to be a star like Olunga and score classic goals like him. I love his goal poaching skills.”
She said she is motivated as she is seen as a role model by young players. Her mother Mary Christine Afwande is her biggest fan.
“My mother has encouraged me to pursue football. I keep her updated. I believe her prayers have shielded me from injuries,” said Shikobe.
African Games outing showed Kenya can reclaim lost glory
Boxing, once a glamour sport in Kenya, is on the path to regaining its lost glory in continental arena after the national team redeemed its image in the African Games in Morocco.
The national team, popularly known as “Hit Squad”, put out one of their best performance to win five medals.
Members of the “Hit Squad” who boxed their way to the podium were Kenya Police’s Shafi Bakari (flyweight), who won a silver medal, Ely Ajowi (heavyweight), George Cosby Ouma (middleweight), Boniface Mugunde (welterweight), Fredrick Ramogi (superheavyweight) who returned home with bronze.
In the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville, Congo, Kenya clinched only two bronze medals through Nick Okoth and Ajowi.
While men posted improved results, the women team comprising Christine Ongare (flyweight), Elizabeth Andiego (middle), Lorna Kusa (welterweight) and Everlyne Akinyi (lightweight) did not win any medal exposing the poor standards of the women’s game in Kenya.
All the Kenyan women boxers were knocked out of the competition in the first round.
“We hope our women boxers will improve in the next competition as they have now been exposed to continental competition,” says Boxing Federation of Kenya competition secretary John Waweru.
The Morocco lift up gave the “Hit Squad” high hopes of doing well in the first 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers set to be held in Senegal from February 15 to March 1.
The second Olympic qualifier will be held in Paris, France from May 13 to 25 and Kenya will be represented by eight men and five women boxers.
In the national league, the firing Kenya Police also know as “Chafua Chafua” clinched the league after winning all the legs in Nakuru, Kisumu, Nanyuki, Busia and Mombasa.
The policemen popped the champagne thrice as their head coach David Munuhe was voted the Coach of the Year while Bakari was voted the Boxer of the Year.
Martin Oduor (bantamweight) also from Kenya Police was named as the Most Disciplined Boxer.
The best referee cum judge of the year was Steve Ndung’u from Ndenderu in Kiambu County.
Unlike in the past when the judges and referees gave controversial verdicts, this year the men in white were fair in their decisions which is a clear indication the standards of officiating was improving steadily.
“This year the judges and referees made the right decisions and that is a big plus as in the past they have been blamed for biased officiating,” said Waweru.
The judges and referees fairness was evident in the Nanyuki competition when Ajowi was clobbered by Joshua Wasike of Kibra in a match that saw one of the most balanced decision made by the judges and referees.
This year the management of the league has improved as 14 counties participated in the competition.
The league attracted new entrants such as Busia County which produced two promising boxers in Cyrus Wandera in (bantamweight) and Wanende Hassan in the lightweight category.
The sterling performance of pugilists from little known boxing regions such as Busia is attributed to the launch of boxing at the grass roots.
Other counties which were making their maiden appearance in the top flight boxing league were Kakamega, Vihiga, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Murang’a counties.
This year, the number of women boxers participating in the league doubled to 10 unlike in the past when only two or three boxers were featuring in the competition.
The federation has been urging clubs at the counties to recruit more boxers in a bid to attract other upcoming women boxers.
In 2012 Olympic qualifiers in China, Kenya was supposed to be represented by a full team but the country managed to send a team of six women fighters.
The most promising women boxer of the year was Alice Wayiego (bantamweight) from Nairobi.
The stylish Wayiego did not miss a single competition in the gruelling league and when she climbed the ring she did not disappoint as she dazzled her opponents with stinging blows that saw her win bouts with unanimous points decisions.
In a bid to take the game to all the 47 counties, the federation launched a campaign at the counties urging their members to comply with the Sports Act.
“The federation is keen on taking boxing to grass roots and we have started a conversation with the counties to ensure they comply with the Sports Act and form a boxing team,” said Isaac Mbote.
Mbote, who is the first vice chairman of the federation, attributed the improved standards to a new team of officials at the helm who are determined to transform the game.
However, the new boxing leadership has not secured sponsorship and must look for potential sponsors instead of relying on individual to bail the teams out in the domestic league.
Kenya Police, Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya Prisons are the only teams with sponsorship in the national league while the rest of the 18 clubs were sponsored by an individuals.
The “Hit Squad” will start residential camp in January for the Olympic qualifiers.
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