Disabled yes, but very able

Updated 12 hr(s) 56 min(s) ago

By James Waindi

The Paralympics team returned from the 2008 Beijing Games to a colourful reception at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport and were later treated to a special lunch at the Simba Restaurant.

Raila Odinga with the national team, which arrived on Friday from the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. Photo: Jennifer Wachie /Standard

Prime Minister Raila Odinga led a powerful Government team, including Sports Minister Hellen Sambili, Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando and Permanent Secretary Kinuthia Murugu, to welcome the athletes who finished the Summer Games in the 26th position.

Families and friends of the athletes arrived at the airport to receive their loved ones as early as 9am yesterday. Some came from as far as Eldoret with hired vans and others from Central Province.

The team touched down at 1pm aboard a Qatar Airline from Doha, led by Assistant Minister for Sports Wavinya Ndeti. They were welcomed by bouquet of flowers from family members and ministry officials.

Traditional dancers were also at hand to entertain the heroes and the traditional gourd milk, mursik was also available for the medallists.

This was Kenyaís best performance in the history of the event. They improved by 11 positions from their 2004 Athens Olympics, bagging nine medals ó five gold medals, three silver and one bronze.

At the previous Games in Athens four years ago, Kenya only managed a total of seven medals, three gold, one silver and three bronze.

"You have done the country proud and we are relishing this moment. The government is very keen on sports and we are promising maximum support for the Paralympics team," said Odinga.

Wanyoike absent

"I know you lacked proper equipments and proper training compared to your opponents in Beijing, but you still ruled the roast and even broke world records. This is a clear indication that we have talent. The Kenyan and the Chinese Government are planning to build sports complex for the physically challenged in each province to help tap talent from the grass root," he added.

Team captain Henry Wanyoike was the only athlete who did not return with the squad. Chef de Mission Jairus Mogalo said Wanyoike, who holds 5,000m and 10,000m world records, remained in China to do a promotion with Standard Chartered Bank, but noted he was expected next week.

Meanwhile, President Kibaki is today expected to fete the athletes at State House, Nairobi.

The medallists are expected to receive the same cash rewards as the OIympic team athletes.

Gold medallists will go home with a total of Sh2.3m, while silver medallists will get Sh1.25m and bronze medallists Sh780,000 richer.

Henry Kirwa will pocket Sh6.9m after winning T11 5,000m, T11 1,500m race and T12 10,000m race.

Abraham Tarbei bagged the two other gold medals and is expected to pocket Sh4.6m.

Silver medallist are Mary Nakhumicha (Women Javeline throw F 57/58), Samuel Mushai (Menís 1,500m T11) and Francis Thuo (Menís 5,000m T12). Veteran Henry Wanyoike this time only managed to scoop a bronze medal in the menís 5,000m T11.

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