Tue, 03 Aug 2021

NAIROBI, July 21 (Xinhua) -- A month will not have elapsed since the Kenyan women beach volleyball quartet qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the final team sport entry from the east African nation to book their ticket to Japan, before they are thrown to the deep end of competition.

The Kenyan pair of Brackcides Agala and Gaudencia Makokha faces a baptism of fire on July 26 when they open their Tokyo 2020 campaign against medal favorites Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva and Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil.

Teammates Phoscah Kasisi and Yvonne Wavinya will make their Tokyo 2020 bow in Kenya's second Pool D clash against USA's Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil on July 29.

Kenya punched their ticket to Japan when Agala and Makokha beat Nigeria's pair of Amarchi Uchechukwu and Francisca Ikhiede 2-1 (17-21, 21-18, 15-10).

Kasisi and Wavinya then silenced the duo of Albertina Francis and Tochukwu Nnoruga 2-0 (21-17, 21-10) as Kenyan won the Africa Continental Cup Olympic qualifiers in Agadir, Morocco on June 28.

Speaking from their camp in Japan on Tuesday, Agala, a former long-serving captain of the women's volleyball team Malkia Strikers, who are also in Tokyo, believes they will give a good account of themselves in a pool that also features Latvia despite being the massive tournament underdogs.

Kenya will be featured in the Olympics beach volleyball tournament for the first time since the sport was introduced at the Summer Games at Atlanta 1996.

Their path to Tokyo was achieved with grit as well as a dose of good fortune along the way.

First, the Kenyan girls defied all odds to stun hosts Morocco in a pulsating semi-final while Nigeria made it through after African powerhouse Egypt was disqualified after some of the delegates tested positive for COVID-19.

Beach volleyball is not a developed sport in Kenya with the Tokyo 2020 quartet an example, switching from the indoor game to the sport. They are now eager to make a name in Japan to motivate the country to embrace the beach version of the game going forward.

There will be 24 men's teams and 24 women's teams competing at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

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