RIO DE JANIERO, Archer Shehzana Anwar has been chosen as Kenya’s Flag bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic games at the iconic Maracana stadium.
The reigning African Archery women champion will lead the Kenya march past in her debut Olympics, an important honour bestowed to athletes, that should inspire her as she lines up for the individual ranking rounds a few hours earlier.
She will become the first Archer to carry the national flag and the 11th listed flag bearer in Kenya’s 15 appearances at the Summer Olympic games.
Previously track runners – Seraphino Antao, Patrick Sang, Paul Tergat Kennedy Ochieng, Grace Momanyi, Boxers – James ‘Demosh’ Omondi and Patrick ‘Mont’ Waweru, Volleyballer Violet Baraza and a swimmer have been selected by the National Olympics Commitee for the ceremony.
Jason Dunford carried the flag in London.
“It means everything to me that I finally get here at the Olympics with archery. I am not just going to wear the flag but I am also going to carry it,” Anwar said on Wednesday, after yet another intense shooting session at the Sambódromo Range.
Four time Olympian Ezekiel Kemboi is the captain of team Kenya.
First Archer to carry the Kenyan flag
“It has been 14 years of Archery and my dream since I started was to make it to the Olympics. It has been a long wait and finally I get here after the qualification in February.
My ranking has also shot up. It has all happened in such a short time,” said the 26- year old, born into a sporting family. Her father Azar Anwar, is a three times National rally champion and her elder brother Shezan is a seven times Quad champion. She is in Rio with her mum Tabassum Anwar who is also her coach.
“My family has been very supportive of me and to have my mum here also helps. My mum took up an interest in the sport after I started competing. Archery is a part of me, it took over my life. I don’t see myself dying other than by an arrow.”
After winning the African individual event at the 2016 African Championships in Windhoek, Namibia, she managed to compete at the South African and World cup in Turkey.
She won gold over the short distance in South Africa and rounded up her Olympic build-up in Antalya last June where she ranked 18th. She moved up to 195 in the women’s standings from position 213.
“I don’t put any expectations on me. I will not put any pressure. I have made it this far. What I have to do is to do my absolute best and take whatever comes,” she added, well aware of the burden of expectations. The qualified instructor splits her time practicing and coaching archery at the Strathmore University in Nairobi.
Ruto to attend the Olympics
“The interest in Archery has doubled since I won the African title and a lot more people are interested in learning the sport. Carrying the Kenyan flag here will also boost the sport.”
Meanwhile, Deputy president William Ruto will attend the Olympics in Rio and is expected to join the team here from August 11.
The Cabinet Secretary for Sports Dr Hassan Wario arrived on Tuesday in the Brazilian capital.
The next batch of the team comprising mainly the track and field athletes is expected to jet in this Sunday, with a few selected ones including Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku opting to stay behind and will travel with the men marathoners on August 14.