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Hail the sparkling Kenyan girls and coach Bitok’s tact  

KENYA women won the volleyball Gold medal at the 12th African Games and their lofty standards and professionalism of their coach Paul Bitok will be the country’s celebrated big pride.

The Kenyan girls were low down on the first set, losing it 12-25 to Cameroon, but the manner of their re-grouping and tactical leadership by Bitok marked the team as indeed a world class outfit. The Kenyan women grabbed the Gold — with a score of 12-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-21 — retaining the title from four years ago in Brazzaville, Congo, where, again, they beat Cameroon in the Final.

Top: The Kenya women's volleyballers Gold medallistys after overcoming Cameroon in Rabat on Friday. Coach Paul Bitok is far left. Above: The Kenyan celebrations in Rabat

Top: The Kenya women’s volleyballers Gold medallists after overcoming Cameroon in Rabat on Friday. Coach Paul Bitok is far left. Above: The Kenyan celebrations in Rabat

Rabat, Morocco, ending on Friday, were African Games where Kenya’s large entry of 259 athletes included too many of standards not worth of parade in championships of this magnitude.

In sharp contrast, though, the magnificent Kenyan volleyballers were playing a Cameroon team also of top class. The Cameroonians had just recently beaten Kenya 3-2 in the Final of the African Nations Championships in Cairo, Egypt.

African women’s place in the world stage of volleyball is now a dogged fight between Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt and Tunisia at the very least. Cameroon, ranked at No.17 and Kenya, ranked last at No. 20 are the African representatives in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup in Japan, September 14-19, 2019.

The large Kenyan contingent to the 12th African Games hosted at State House Nairobi bu President Uhuru Kenyatta before departure to Morocco. A hige number of them in several disciplines did not meet the standards. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN

The large Kenyan contingent to the 12th African Games hosted at State House Nairobi by President Uhuru Kenyatta before departure to Morocco. A huge number of them in several disciplines did not meet the standards. Kenya won 11 Gold medals in Morocco. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN

Without Bitok on the side-lines, it may well have been a psychological uphill battle for the Kenyan girls after the first set and indeed the third that they bravely took 26-24. Bitok was working in Rwanda when Kenya fell to Cameroon in the African championships on July 15. He joined the African Games team just a couple of weeks to the Morocco travel. Bitok had earlier supervised a Rwanda men team humbling a Kenyan one on home soil at the Moi International Sports Centre gymnasium. Then he ‘came home’, joined the women’s side. He promised he’d help them regain their confidence for Morocco after so recent a defeat by now arch rivals Cameroon.

“It will be difficult to lift them up fully before then but, do they have a choice? They have to do it for themselves and the country,” Bitok had said. But he was confident of his own coaching abilities and the know-how to ‘psyche’ up teams. For several years he had raised Rwanda from anonymity to formidable opponents in the region.

The volleyball Gold for Kenya, as team sports triumphs always do, will boost the morale of a country that won only 11 Gold medals at a championship where Egypt had a staggering 101, Nigeria 46, South Africa 36, Algeria 33, Morocco 30 and Tunisia 26.

Kenya’s undoing was carrying on its shoulders a huge liability of “worthless” competitors — those who came nowhere near making international grade — to Morocco and shambolic [as usual] last-minute residential camping and travel arrangements.

In the end the country relied on a few athletes with high world standards and mental resolve for at least a decent medal count. However, 11 Gold medals did not overhaul previous six times when Kenya had done better at the African Games. The best outings “away’ from home was 14 Gold in Maputo, Mozambique (2011) and 13 Gold in both Cairo, Egypt (1991) and Algiers, Algeria (2007). The worst was Abuja, Nigeria — 5 Gold — in 2003.

Men’s volleyball:

Final:

Cameroon 3-1 Morocco

(22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-14)

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12th AFRICAN GAMES

MEDAL COUNT:

Rank NOC
Total
1 Egypt Egypt 101 97 73 271
2 Nigeria Nigeria 46 33 47 126
3 South Africa South Africa 36 26 25 87
4 Algeria Algeria 33 32 60 125
5 Morocco Morocco 30 31 46 107
6 Tunisia Tunisia 26 36 34 96
7 Kenya Kenya 11 10 10 31
8 Mauritius Mauritius 6 6 12 24
9 Ethiopia Ethiopia 6 5 12 23
10 Madagascar Madagascar 6 4 2 12
11 Cameroon Cameroon 5 14 9 28
12 Cote D'Ivoire Cote D’Ivoire 5 5 8 18
13 Botswana Botswana 5 3 6 14
14 Burkina Faso Burkina Faso 4 2 2 8
15 Ghana Ghana 2 2 9 13
16 Angola Angola 2 2 4 8
  Namibia Namibia 2 2 4 8
18 Seychelles Seychelles 2 1 1 4
19 The Gambia The Gambia 2 1 0 3
20 Gabon Gabon 2 0 4 6
21 Niger Niger 2 0 1 3
22 Senegal Senegal 1 5 16 22
23 Mozambique Mozambique 1 3 1 5
24 Zambia Zambia 1 1 3 5
25 São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe 1 1 1 3
26 Eritrea Eritrea 0 3 0 3
27 Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Democratic Republic of the 0 2 9 11
28 Uganda Uganda 0 2 8 10
29 Libya Libya 0 2 2 4
  Mali Mali 0 2 2 4
31 Congo, Republic of the Congo, Republic of the 0 1 3 4
  Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 0 1 3 4
33 Djibouti Djibouti 0 1 1 2
34 Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau 0 1 0 1
  Lesotho Lesotho 0 1 0 1
36 Chad Chad 0 0 4 4
37 Rwanda Rwanda 0 0 3 3
38 Benin Benin 0 0 2 2
  Guinea Guinea 0 0 2 2
  Togo Togo 0 0 2 2
41 Central African Republic Central African Republic 0 0 1 1
  Cape Verde Cape Verde 0 0 1 1

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