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Malkia crown Team Kenya’s golden finish

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By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya national women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers’ coach Paul Bitok has attributed his team’s success at the just-concluded African Games in Rabat to unity of purpose and change of tactics.

Despite trailing in the second and third sets, Malkia Strikers dug deep to power to the lead before dismissing Africa champions Cameroon in 3-1 sets of 12-25, 25-15, 26-24 and 25-21 to retain the African Games title.

Bitok said that good analysis on the eve of the final saw them change tactics by shifting players in some positons, which wreaked havoc into Cameroon systems.

“Cameroon had been changing players but we had a good analysts in our meeting and it worked well. We changed those who previous started outside to inside.

“I instilled in them the essence of fighting to the end no matter the situation. I introduced setter Janet Wanja to serve and brought in our last sub Evelyne Makuto and it worked well to destabilise Cameroon,” said Bitok.

Having found deep divisions in the team, Bitok said he tried to bring harmony in the team by talking to all the players’ individually and as a team.

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“I am deeply humbled by these players since anyone would not tell if there were divisions before,” said Bitok.

“I don’t want to talk about the relationship between my predecessor and the players since that won’t take us anywhere,” said Bitok.

Bitok said they will need to keep focus since after the African Games, they will head for the World Cup in Japan later this month before the Africa qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due January next year.

Hotly contested final day

Women’s volleyball is the only other sport that gave Kenya gold medals apart from athletics as the games ended on Saturday.

However, Kenya was also able to get medals from boxing, tae kwon-do, mountain bike (cross country) and swimming.

Kenya finished seventh overall with 31 medals — 11 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze — as Egypt, once again, topped with 271 medals; 101 gold, 97 silver and 73 bronze followed by Nigeria with 126(46-33-47) and South Africa 87 (36, 26, 25).

Kenya struck 20 medals — 10 gold, seven silver and three bronze medals to finish second behind Nigeria after a hotly contested final day of athletics on Friday.

The country hauled 12 medals on the final day, namely six gold, four silver and two bronze medals to only lose to Nigeria on bronze after they tied on gold and silver medals.

It was Kenya’s best ever show in 29 years, with the last coming during the 1991 Cairo games where they also finished second behind Nigeria with 29 medals — 12 gold, 10 silver and seven bronze.

Boxing yielded five medals, namely one silver and four bronze, which was their best ever show since the 2007 Algiers games. Tae kwo-do brought two silver medals while swimming and mountain bike one bronze medal each.

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