The Kenyan judo team has intensified preparations for the Budapest Grand Slam slated for October 23-25 in Hungary and they remain hopeful of government support to attend the competition.
The competition will mark the return of the World Judo Tour after being forced to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the entire world.
The Grand Slam is one of the competitions that the International Judo Federation (IJF) plans to use in selecting the judokas who will compete in the Tokyo Olympics Games that will be held in Japan next year.
“We hope and pray that the government will come forward and sponsor the team because the tournament is very important in the Olympics qualifiers,” Kenya Judo Federation president Shadrack Maluki told Nation Sport Friday.
And as the federation waits for the communication from the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Heritage over the matter, 35 judokas (21 men and 14 women) are already in camp, seeking to make it in the list of those who will represent the country in the competition.
With judo being among the contact sports the government ordered to remain suspended until further notice because of the virus, Kenya Judo Federation Secretary General Johnson Mwadime said that they received approval to gather the team for training.
The team has been training at Kamiti Maximum Prison, and at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi.
Only 14 judokas (seven men and seven women), and five officials will travel to Hungary for the competition, should the government agree to fund the team.
Maluki said they will select a strong team for the assignment, exuding confidence that Kenya will perform better since all judokas globally have been affected by the pandemic.
“They have been training individually, which we have been monitoring as a federation so there is no reason why we should not perform well should we take part,” he said.
After the Budapest Grand Slam, the next Olympics qualifying events are the Tokyo Grand Slam planned for December 11 to 13, and Qatar World Masters in January next year.
The IJF says more such events will take place next year, including in Africa, after which the judokas who will compete in the Olympics will be named sometime in April.