Bitok gives thumps up to facilities at Kurume, Shujaa check in

The national women’s volleyball team head coach Paul Bitok says he is impressed with the facilities extended to his team during the 12-day pre-Olympic Games camp at Kurume City. Malkia Strikers hit the camp Sunday for their fourth and final training phase after the second batch of the team landed safely on Saturday. Bitok said all the players were in high spirits and ready to fine tune their skills before the Games kick off on July 23, and was impressed by the quality of the facilities in the camp. “We’re full house after the second batch arrived yesterday (Sunday) and the players are fired up and the training has started in earnest. We’re excited because the welcome was good and the camp has quality facilities which I believe will help us hit top form before leaving for Tokyo,” said Bitok. “We’ve started to work on specific areas like reception which has been the biggest undoing for Malkia Strikers. I believe we will be able to sharpen all the remaining parts before the serve off.” The advance team will be hosted in Kurume City for a 12-day pre-Olympic training camp under full sponsorship for their stay, including accommodation, local travel in Japan and meals. Bitok revealed that he will name his starting six for Japan opener, after the first week in the camp even as he urged his charges not to drop the ball. He, however, said the team is getting challenges to secure a friendly match with one of the Kurume local clubs due to the stringent measures put to curb spread of the Covid-19. “We were hoping to play at least one build up match with one of the local teams here in Kurume but that has proved to be challenging because the country has put very tough rules to avoid spike of the Covid-19 cases. But we’re still in negotiations to ensure we play a friendly match before our first game against Japan,” he added. Pitted against volleyball world-beaters -Japan, Serbia, Korea and Dominican Republic- Bitok is hoping to buck the trend of Malkia’s dismal showing in the two previous Summer Games appearances-2000 and 2004 Games- -where they finished bottom with no single win in both occasions. “I still believe the squad is capable of reaching the second round of this Games because we’ve had very good preparations and I urge all the Kenyans to continue standing with the team.” Meanwhile, the first group of the national men’s sevens rugby team has arrived in Kurume City, joining Malkia Strikers who landed on Friday. The rest of the rugby squad is expected in Kurume later Monday and will be hosted in the city for the next fortnight, before they travel some 1000 kilometers to the Games Village next Monday. Shujaa will begin their campaign on July 26 with a clash against USA before facing South Africa and rounding off their Group C action against Ireland the following day. The Lionesses, who are yet to depart the country, will get their fixtures in Pool ‘A’ underway against New Zealand on July 29 before clashes against Russia and Great Britain.

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