Wrestler Mathayo Mahabila won bronze for Kenya at the ongoing Africa Beach games in Hammamet, Tunisia.
The bronze medal was the third medal for the country after beating Tunisia’s Khaireddine Ben Tlili 4-2 in the 80kg category after dropping to the third and fourth play-off following defeat to Senegal’s Ngor Niakhe in the semis.
“I feel delighted because last month at the qualifiers I finished in fourth place and now I have improved that to a bronze. I want to dedicate this to my lovely wife who has been really supportive to my career,” said Mahabila.
He now says the victory has given him motivation as he engages a new gear towards qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
“The Olympics are a bit different because we play on carpet and here we do it on sand. But, these are almost same conditions we train in and it has given me lots of motivation to qualify for Paris,” added the 25-year old, who is a warder attached to the Prisons Training College in Ruiru.
Mahabila had earlier beaten the Tunisian in the preliminary rounds, and he knew it was going to be tough meeting again.
He hit the first point, but the Tunisian responded after landing him out of the sector. It was a tough duel, and the Tunisian landed the next point by putting Mahabila on his knee. But the Kenyan fought hard and levelled after dragging the Tunisian beyond the sector.
He then scored the game winning point next, when he pushed his opponent out of the sector again.
Tlili asked for a Video Review, which he lost after a lengthy check, and the Kenyan had his bronze.
Women’s basketball power into semis
Meanwhile, the 3×3 basketball team has qualified for the semi-final after edging out Uganda 11-9 in a nail-biting quarter final. The girls are now just one win away from a medal prospect. They take on home girls Tunisia in Friday morning’s semi.
Against Uganda, the Kenyan girls almost paid for a series of unfortunate shots, but they held on for the victory. Mary Lisa Omondi starred once again for the Kenyan girls with five points.
“We are delighted to make the semi and we will do our best to get into medal position,” Lisa said after the match.
While Lisa had the biggest contribution of the game in terms of points, it was her Zetech University teammate Medina Okot who delivered the match winning points.
With scores tied at 9-9 and 4.3secs to play, Okot was fouled under the rim and handed two free throws, and she made both.
The Kenyan girls were however handed a tense moment immediately after the restart when Uganda’s Shakira Nanvubya won a foul off Lisa, but luckily she missed both her efforts from the free-throw line.
At the same time, the men’s team finished in fifth place after edging out Benin 13-10 in the ranking match. They had dropped off medal contention after losing to neighbors Rwanda in the quarter finals.
David Gichohi was Kenya’s star-man, hitting eight of the 13 points the team netted.
Harambee Sand Starlets finish fourth
Elsewhere, the men’s football team finished fourth after losing their last match 6-3 to Morocco. The Harambee Stars had a 2-1 lead just at the start of the second period, but the Moroccans proved to be better on the day.
“It was a good experience for us to come here and compete against some of the best teams in Africa. We lost because of small technicalities as this was the very first time we were coming here. We were still getting ourselves acquainted and we leave with a lot of experience,” said skipper of the day Wilberforce Lugogo.
He added; “We want to thank the government and NOC-K for their support and giving us this opportunity. We have learnt a lot and next time when we come, we will be much improved.”
Against Morocco, Answar Shamuni scored a brace while the other was from Lucky Mrabu. The latter had cancelled out Anouar Frindi’s early goal. Frindi scored a hattrick for the Moroccans.
Senegal lead the standings on goal difference. They are on nine points, same as Morocco. The two clash in the final match on Friday, with a winner take all tag. Neighbors Tanzania are angling for bronze, and they face Libya in the last match also on Friday