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Kennedy Ogada with his pilot Benson Mwaniki in training

Four Kenyan para-cyclists to compete in the 2024 UCI Para-Cycling

Four Kenyan para-athletes will on May 5, 2024 compete in the 2024 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Ostend, Belgium.

The championships in Ostend is one of the two remaining events that Kenyan para-cyclists will be using to qualify for the Paris Paralympic Games scheduled from August 29 to September 7 in the French capital.

The final event will be the Africa Para-Cycling Championships, planned from May 24 to 26 in Cairo, Egypt, where the same athletes will compete either for direct slots to the Paris Paralympics or through universality.

Kennedy Ogada with his pilot Benson Mwaniki in training
Kennedy Ogada with his pilot Benson Mwaniki in training

Veteran Kennedy Ogada, who has already qualified for the Paris Paralympics in tandem track cycling (double bike), will aim to get the second ticket for Paris in tandem road cycling in Ostend.

Ogada, 50, and newcomer Henry Nzungi will field in Blind (B) 2 tandem road contest which will cover between 100km and 120km, while Dedan Ireri and Samuel Mwangi will compete in C2, respectively, covering 88km. Ireri is an amputee, while Mwangi has a deformed right leg.

Ogada has Benson Mwaniki as his pilot, while Ernest Nyinge will guide Nzungi in the double bike race.

Nzungi will be eyeing his third Paralympic Games after representing Kenya in para-athletics in 100m, 200m and 400m at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

Pilots guide visually impaired cyclists in racing, while track cycling is held indoors on a bowed track similar to an indoor athletics track; those cycling ones are a bit slanted. 

Ogada is the only para-cycling who has qualified for the Paris Paralympics, joining eight other para-athletes for the Paris Summer Games.

Others are Tokyo Paralympics Nancy Chelangat (1,500 T11), Mary Waithera (1,500 T11) and Wesley Sang (1,500 T46) in athletics, Asiya Sururu (rowing) and Stacy Neema and Julieta Moipo (taekwondo).

Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) secretary general Stanley Mutuma said that top six finishers will gain automatic qualification to Paris.

Ogada qualified to Paris on track way back during the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where he finished sixth in one minute and 20.172 seconds in the tandem 1 km time trial won by Neil Fachie of Scotland, piloted by Lewis Stewart in 59.938 seconds.

“It felt great when I was informed by UCI that I had qualified after finishing sixth at the Commonwealth Games but I will be more excited to also make it in road racing,” said Ogada, who gradually turned blind 10 years ago after suffering glaucoma.

Ogada, who had competed in several international events before losing his eyesight, said he would give the Ostend race his best shot as he rallied his compatriots to cash on the opportunity to qualify and join him in Paris.

“You always feel lonely outside there and having more qualifying will be great news,” said Ogada, coached by Briton Mathew Butt. “My only hope is that we shall have more days to train on track in Paris before the D-day.”

Ogada gained more experience when competing in the World Para-Cycling Championships in Portugal and the World Para-Cycling World Cup in Glasgow, Scotland, last year.

“It’s tough for us since we just have to go outside since the country doesn’t have an indoor track. Road cycling is much easier since it can be done locally but we face challenges in funding,” said Ogada, who is glad to have acquired a new track bike.

 “Track and road racing bikes are quite different,” explained Ogada, who was drawn into para-cycling by current Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) secretary general Stanely Mutuma, a former international.

Nzungi said he is ready for the championships, having trained as a team in Murang’a.

“I have been doing 120km to 130km hence I am confident of returning good times,” said Nzungi, who is competing internationally for the time in para-cycling.

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