Athlete petitions her exclusion from Paralympics team

By francis marangu
Aug 19, 2016

Kenya National Paralympics Committee (KNPC) was put to task on Thursday to explain the exclusion of Sylvia Atieno from the team to the Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro slated for next month.

The Rio 2016 Paralympics will run from September 7-18. Atieno is a discuss thrower and was informed of her exclusion on August 10.

She challenged the decision by KNPC at the Sports Disputes Tribunal and was heard on Thursday at a special sitting. In her submission, Atieno claimed she had met the qualification standards.

She further alleged KNPC was biased in nominating Nancy Chelagat Koech for the sole women’s slot available.

Making reference to an earlier meeting the team held with KNPC officials, Atieno said they were informed that athletes in class A and B would be considered for a team of 31. But, that was later changed to exclude those in class B.

“There were rumours that the team would be downsized and that is when we pressured the management to confirm the real position.

"When the new list was read out, my name was missing and I was shocked,” Atieno told the tribunal informing them that she had a throw of 26.70 meters which was well within the A classification.

Class A starts from 22 meters to 100 meters while class B is from 18 meters to 21 meters. “I wondered why my name was missing yet I had an A and the only lady in the field events. In my class, I am second in Africa and 10th in the world. When I asked, the chairperson told me that it was possible (missing out) because countries are many.”

High medal chances 

Agnes Oluoch, the KNPC president appeared in person and defended their decision. It was apparent that KNPC had to choose one lady from the top three who were in class A.

They are Atieno, Chelagat and Mary Njoroge with Oluoch stating that Chelagat was favoured because of her high medal chances.

“Out of the three, we had to look and see who was most likely to bring back medals. Atieno and Wanjiru had one event each but Chelagat had two. That is how we settled for her,” Oluoch explained.

She added that the decision could have been informed by a need to take lesser athletes to Rio.

A KNPC technical committee meeting held on August 2 set out the criteria for selecting the sole lady. Among the things that were agreed to be considered in making the selection included eligibility, performance of each athlete and number of events participated in by the athletes.

Oluoch said the selection process was fair and denied any possibility of bias from KNPC.

“As the president, I would not be happy for my athlete to be left behind. It is always tricky for us when it comes to paralympics because we are not the ones who make the selection. The quota comes from the international body and we have tried to explain that to the athletes.”

Kenya was given nine slots for athletes by the International Paralympics Committee with three being wild cards. KNPC was to select the remaining six; five males and one woman.

A ruling will be delivered on August 23.