Kenya: Young Weightlifter Achieng Tipped to Handle Pressure at Commonwealth

Birmingham — National weightlifting team coach Douglas Locho believes young lifter Rachel Achieng will not be overwhelmed by the big occasion of competing at the Commonwealth Games despite it being her debut.

Locho says Achieng’s vast experience garnered from competing at various will stand her in good stead.

“She competed at the 2019 All Africa Games (in Rabat) and has been competing in various African championships. She is also a three-time gold medalist in the junior categories, so I know that she is ready … she is ready,” Locho said of the 17-year-old.

At only 11, Achieng was already a triple gold medalist courtesy of the 2017 Africa Youth and Junior Championships in Entebbe, Uganda.

In 2019, she went home with bronze at the Africa Senior Weightlifting Championships in Nairobi and for her efforts was awarded a qualification slot to Birmingham.

Locho described Achieng as a young weightlifter with maturity beyond her ears thanks to the time she has spent with the senior players.

“While we were in the camp in Kasarani, she was staying with Winny Langat (All Africa Games triple silver medalist) who was mentoring and guiding her on how to prepare for the competition,” he said.

The five-athlete team to Birmingham landed in England this week and have been training in preparation for the opening ceremony of the quadrennial games.

The team consists of Achieng, Langat, Maurice Aromo, Benjamin Osiemo and Anthony Masinde.

Despite the medal drought experienced in past outings, Locho is adamant things are quite different and that they might shock the bookmakers.

“We will fight it out and I know if we do that then we have a chance of medaling. We cannot tolerate any country because, then again, each one of us has a different strategy. However, if I were to pick (the main threats), I would say it is the developed countries because they have been training even during the Covid-19 period,” he said.

Echoing the sentiments of the coach, Osiemo believes the training they have received has prepared them adequately for the battle ahead.

“Looking back at the preparations we have had; they have been very intense. We have been privileged to work with a coach who is passionate and experienced so we remain hopeful of a medal – at least for one of us although the competition is tough,” Osiemo, who will be making his second Commonwealth appearance, said.

Osiemo collected bronze at last year’s World Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and remains optimistic of replicating the feat in Birmingham.

“My body is in great shape… we thank God for the far He has brought us. I am now ready to go and am inspired by that performance in Uzbekistan,” he said.

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